IFAQ: Dragons Bad?

I’ve been keeping busy. In addition to working on my Threshold Campaign, I’m also about to release The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance and I DID just release Eberron Confidential. And that’s just the projects I can talk about! However, when time permits I like to answer interesting questions from my Patreon supporters. So…

In the canon lore of Eberron, the dragons of Argonnessen completely obliterated the civilizations of the giants of Xen’drik, and in the process all of the lesser civilizations on Xen’drik as well. This involved not simply devastating physical force, but also epic magic such as the Du’rashka Tul (a curse that causes any culture that grows too large to be gripped by homicidal rage) and the Traveler’s Curse (which warps time and space). Why would they do all of this instead of just conquering Xen’drik conventionally?

This relates to the role of dragons in the world, a topic I discussed in this Dragonmark on The First War, but let’s take another look at it. The primary sourcebook on the dragons of Eberron is, surprise, Dragons of Eberron. and what I’m about to say is largely drawn from that. First, let’s take a moment to consider dragons—as defined by the 3.5 rules on which the original lore of Eberron was based.

Dragons are suffused with magical power. This grows stronger as they age, until it suddenly gutters out. Thus, a dragon can live for up to 4,400 years, and as they age they simply become stronger, smarter, and gain more magical power. Under the 3.5 SRD, a typical gold great wyrm has the powers of a 19th level sorcerer, and as seen in Dragons of Eberron, exceptional dragons can add additional class levels on top of that. The dragons of Argonnessen believe that they are the children of Eberron and Siberys, and that they can ascend to become the Sovereigns after death—that they are the gods that lesser creatures worship. With this in mind, dragons don’t consider humanoids to be their equals. At best, they’re essentially dogs—potentially useful if domesticated, possibly dangerous when feral, and so cute when they think they’re dragons. At worst, humanoids are like cockroaches—swarming, insignificant creatures who live and die in the blink of an eye and should be wiped out if they cause trouble. Oh, don’t worry about it. The way they reproduce, in just a century there’ll be swarms of them again.

Dragons of Eberron outlines how, around sixty thousand years ago, dragons spread out from Argonnessen and interacted with the other creatures of Eberron. According to DoE…

Some merely wished to study the lesser creatures. A few came as mentors, foremost among them the descendants of Ourelonastrix. These dragons shared the secrets of magic with giants, curious to see what innovations these promising creatures might develop. But the bulk of the dragons chose the path of conquest. Flights of dragons carved out dominions across the world. For most of the dragons, it began as a game—one with a high cost in life among nondragons.

For a dragon, running a humanoid kingdom was kind of like having an ant farm. It was a source of entertainment and amusement, and if if a few thousand humanoids died when you forced them to fight with a rival dragon, what of it? However, as DoE calls out, things went downhill from there.

In time, however, the struggle turned dragon against dragon. Friendly rivalries became bitter. The blood of dragons flowed. And as the troubles spread, the Daughter of Khyber stirred in the Pit of Five Sorrows.

This is the first crucial factor in understanding the actions of the modern dragons: The Daughter of Khyber. One of the most powerful overlords of the first age, she has the ability to corrupt and control dragons. She begins by amplifying their cruelty and instinct for tyranny, the desire to rule lesser beings; and from that root she eventually consumes them completely, until they become extensions of her own immortal evil. Argonnessen itself was nearly destroyed in the escalating conflict that followed. When the battles were finally won and the Daughter of Khyber fully restored to her prison, the Conclave of Argonnessen ordered all dragons to return and forbade any further draconic imperialism. The dragons remain hidden in Argonnessen not simply because they have no interest in other civilizations, but because it is dangerous for them to meddle with lesser creatures.

But there’s a second element to this. Tens of thousands of years later, the giants of Xen’drik—using power based on the knowledge shared by dragons—destroyed the moon Crya and threatened the balance of the planes of Eberron. The dragons resisted taking action, but centuries later they threatened to unleash these powers again. According to Dragons of Eberron, “Perhaps they thought victory was possible, but many historians believe it was pure nihilism—if the titans couldn’t rule the world, they would destroy it.” As this threat became known…

Shocked and alarmed at the effect of the forces already unleashed by the giants, this time (the dragons) chose to act. A scaled army poured forth from Argonnessen, with flights of all colors led by the militant wyrms of the Light of Siberys. The conflict was brutal, and its outcome never in doubt. The dragons had no interest in holding territory. They made no effort to avoid civilian casualties; they brought fire, fang, and epic magic to bear in the most destructive ways imaginable. In the end, nothing was left of the proud nations of Xen’drik. Giant, elf, and all other cultures of the land were laid low by the dragons, and powerful curses ensured that the giants would never again threaten the world. Their mission accomplished, the dragons returned to Argonnessen to brood. All agreed that the people of Xen’drik would never have posed such a threat if the dragons had not shared the secrets of magic. The Conclave called the event kurash Ourelonastrix—Aureon’s Folly—and forbade any flight from sharing the secrets of Argonnessen with lesser beings.

So: Why didn’t the dragons wage a conventional war? They couldn’t, for multiple reasons. First of all, the giants were already preparing a doomsday ritual BECAUSE they were losing a war. A slow campaign wouldn’t solve that problem, it would simply push the giants even further up against the wall. Second, a conventional campaign of conquest is EXACTLY the sort of action that feeds the Daughter of Khyber. For both of these reasons, the draconic action had to be swift and decisive, not about ruling lesser creatures but simply about eliminating the threat. And this is where we come back to that point of humanoids are like cockroaches to dragons. The Conclave concluded that it had made a terrible mistake in sharing magic with the giants. Their response to this wasn’t Let’s teach them to use our power with greater wisdom, it was let’s completely wipe our mistake from the world and make sure we never do that again.

This is what drives Argonnessen today. Dragons must not repeat Aureon’s Folly, which is why Vvaraak is an apostate for sharing her secrets with the Gatekeeper druids. Dragons must not try to rule lesser creatures beyond the borders of Argonnessen. They can WATCH them. They can manipulate them, for purposes of the grand conflict over the Draconic Prophecy. But they cannot rule them. And should they become a serious threat to Argonnessen, destroying them all is a viable solution. One can even make the argument that both the Du’rashka Tul and the Traveler’s Curse were examples of draconic MERCY. The Dragons were determined that the giants would never again threaten the world as they once did. They COULD have utterly eradicated them from existence. Instead, they destroyed their civilizations, and put in place safeguards to ensure that they’d never rebuild a civilization that could pose a threat—but they DIDN’T just reduce Xen’drik to a plane of glass.

This goes all the way back to one of the basic principles of Eberron: The world needs heroes. If the Tarrasque appears and is going to destroy Sharn, the dragons won’t show up to help you, because they do not care what happens to Sharn. If they do, it’s only because it’s tied to the Prophecy and there’s a very specific outcome that they want — in which case, it’s likely they still can’t defeat the Tarrasque THEMSELVES, they need to help you do it, because that’s what is required for the Prophecy. At the end of the day, the main point is while the dragons of Argonnessen may not be EVIL, they are not your friends. They are not here to help you. They don’t CARE if the Dreaming Dark takes over Sarlona or Khorvaire unless there’s a clear threat to Argonnessen. They don’t care about the Mourning unless it, too, can be proven to be a threat to the entire world (as the actions of the Cul’sir were). And if they DO decide something is a problem, there is the risk that they will solve it in the same way they solved their problems with Xen’drik. We don’t think much about exterminating cockroaches when they get in our way, and to Argonnessen as a whole, your character is a cockroach.

The key point is that generally, the people of Khorvaire have no contact with dragons. They know they exist, but no one ever goes to Argonnessen (in part because those who do don’t return). Dragons aren’t just another nation like Riedra or the Aereni. To the people of Khorvaire, Argonnessen is a legend—and it’s likely for the best that it stays that way.

Dragons as Individuals

So what’s the point of HAVING dragons in the world if you can’t use them? Well, everything I wrote is about Argonnessen. It’s based on the idea that IF dragons lived for thousands of years, IF every dragon possessed significant magical power, why WOULDN’T they have a civilization far greater than anything we know? But the follow-up is that that civilization largely ignores the lesser civilizations, following its own version of the Prime Directive (because of Aureon’s Folly and the Daughter of Khyber). However, INDIVIDUAL DRAGONS can have their own goals and interests and play many different roles in a campaign. Just to name a few…

  • The Observer. The Chamber is watching the world to make sure that things are moving according to their plans. In general, Chamber observers manipulate rather than acting directly, and you’d never know they were dragons… unless something goes wrong. My novella “Principles of Fire” involves two Chamber observers, and something going wrong.
  • The Rogue Dragon. Not all dragons obey the Conclave of Argonnessen. And while many dragons establishing empires is a problem for the Daughter of Khyber, a SINGLE dragon being a jerk isn’t a big deal. Rogue dragons might be rogues because they want to HELP humanoids—like Vvaraak, who taught the Gatekeepers—or because they want to hurt them, as with Sarmondelaryx terrorizing Thrane. Some rogue dragons just want to pursue arcane studies, though again, because dragons often see themselves as far above humanoids, a dragon scientist may well use humans as lab rats. So you can HAVE a dragon as an ally or a villain in a campaign; the point is that they don’t have the full support of Argonnessen behind them, and thus shouldn’t overshadow the player characters.
  • The Wild Dragon. Dragons are intelligent and have (at least in the 3.5 model) innate magical powers. But you can still have a dragon orphaned in the wild, who knows nothing of Argonnessen and has essentially grown up feral. Or you could have a dragon who’s been corrupted by the Daughter of Khyber and is an agent of evil, but who likewise knows nothing of Argonnessen.

So, you can HAVE a random evil dragon or a benevolent dragon ally if you choose. But Argonnessen itself was always intended to be that spot on the map that says Here There Be Dragon, the place that we DON’T know about… The place that will pose a challenge for even the mightiest characters. It’s supposed to be a mystery, something beyond our understanding or our reach. Because remember that Eberron was grounded in principles of pulp adventure, and that concept of ancient powers in an unknown realm, advanced far beyond human civilization is certainly in keeping with that. You can find a further discussion of why we chose to follow this path in the First War article.

How do you handle the changes made to dragons in the different editions?

It’s a tricky point. The whole idea of Argonnessen IS based on the vast power possessed by the 3.5 dragons. A gold great wyrm has mental abilities scores in the 30s and the spellcasting abilities of a 19th level sorcerer, and that’s an average great gold wyrm. The point of Argonnessen was if creatures with such power and intellect existed and had existed for tens of thousands of years, WOULDN’T they have a civilization far beyond what we’re depicting for the Five Nations?

The dragons of 5E are generally weaker, and that’s probably for the best. Do you really NEED an enemy dragon to be able to drop a wish on you in addition to breathing fire? So for purposes of running adventures, I’m fine with using a default 5E dragon as that wild dragon who never mastered its innate magical powers and using the Innate Spellcasting rules for a Chamber observer. But personally, I’m not changing my default vision of Argonnessen because the rules have changed, and there’s a simple way to have this cake and eat it, too. The 5E age chart for dragons only goes to Ancient. 3.5 has two further categories, Wyrm and Great Wyrm — and it’s the Great Wyrms that would be throwing wishes around. So it’s reasonable to say that great wyrms still exist and still have all the powers they wielded in 3.5… you just don’t see them outside of Argonnesen.

Ultimately, as with anything, the question is what is the story you want to tell? The idea of Argonnessen was to be the mysterious space blank on the map, to be the civilization that’s tens of thousands of years beyond humanity, to be the illuminati secretly fighting a war with fiends in the shadows. If that’s not a story you want to tell, don’t tell it. Part of the point of the dragons BEING so secretive is that if you remove the Chamber and the Lords of Dust from the game, no one would know. All canon is only a place to start; if there’s anything you don’t like about it, don’t use it.

Now: Previously I have done my best to answer every question posted on an article. However, the whole idea of IFAQs is that they are short, meaning I can write more of them. In the past, I’ve ended up answering so many questions that the article ends up being longer than a Dragonmark… and this article is ALREADY longer than I planned. So: feel free to ASK questions about this topic, but there’s a good chance I’m not going to answer them. And again: if you want to know the CANON answers about dragons, check out Dragons of Eberron, and if you want more kanon answers, check out The First War.

Thanks as always to my Patreon supporters!

71 thoughts on “IFAQ: Dragons Bad?

  1. Do the dragons of Argonnessen treat other creatures with the dragon type with any modicum of respect, or is it only happenstance that a pseudodragon or a wyvern are Draconic in nature?

      • Following this, do the dragon remark that tiamat has the tail of a wyvern? Or do they see it as a sign of tiamat being demonic with her having to them bestial traits? (along with being hydra-headed)

        • do the dragon remark that tiamat has the tail of a wyvern?

          Part of the idea of the overlords is that they aren’t bound to any form; they choose their favored forms as they like. Among other things, this means that in Eberron Tiamat could CHOOSE to have metallic heads if she wanted. Given that, no, people don’t think it means much that she often appears with a wyvern’s tail; Rak Tulkhesh often appears to be PIERCED BY GIANT SWORDS. Overlords are crazy!

  2. Where did the draconic guardians of Q’Barra and the dragonborn empires and lizardfolk of Q’Barra and Xen’drik fit into the draconic isolation?

    I seem to recall a racial similarity between the two reptilian races, with the dragonborn believing themselves sent by the dragons as rulers and conquerors…but I might be wrong

    Are the dragons who’ve fallen to the Cold Sun originally rogue, or wild, or agents of the Chamber?

    • Where did the draconic guardians of Q’Barra and the dragonborn empires and lizardfolk of Q’Barra and Xen’drik fit into the draconic isolation?
      Per Dungeon 185, “The Cold Sun was cast down, bound beneath his obsidian citadel, and trapped by the Silver Flame… In time they dispatched the black dragon Rhashaak to watch over Q’barra.
      There was never any imperialism tied to this; Rhashaak was an observer and a guardian. As for the Dragonborn, “They were a race of warriors waiting for a battle that might never come. Their skills were wasted, and the dragon lord of Haka’torvhak had little interest in their doings. Rhashaak’s attention was confined to his city and to a spiritual battle no dragonborn could understand. So the dragonborn ventured across the Endworld Mountains and into the plains that lay beyond.” Their imperial ambitions weren’t supported or even acknowledged by Rhashaak, they were entirely of their own doing. And the DRAGONBORN aren’t innately vulnerable to the Daughter of Khyber. However, they are vulnerable to the Cold Sun, which is how we end up with the current situation.

      Are the dragons who’ve fallen to the Cold Sun originally rogue, or wild, or agents of the Chamber?
      You say dragons, plural. Where are you getting the idea that there’s more than one dragon that has been corrupted by the Cold Sun? I may be forgetting something, but Rhashaak is the only one I know, and he was an agent of Argonnessen before his fall.

      • Due to currently running the Eyes of the Lich Queen I was thinking of Wyvrix and Bheavamos, the two very young black dragons under the temple of Kha-Shazul, himself a (dracolich?) who lived beneath the temple for many years.

        I’d imagine Kha-Shazul is meant to be an Age of Demons era dragon but the other two are wild? Rogue? Doesn’t matter because they’re speedbumps to get over to set the plot in motion?

        • There’s the answer! You had nothing to do with Eyes of the Lich Queen!

          Sorry Mr. Baker, my apologies I don’t mean to make more work in this regard

  3. How do you handle the change from 3.5 to 5e in regards to that not all dragons can take humanoid form, most noted the chromatics don’t have it.

    By extension the rakshasa who in 5e use the disguise self spell.

    Another change is that anyone could have the aberrant dragonmark would that include dragons?

    • How do you handle the change from 3.5 to 5e in regards to that not all dragons can take humanoid form, most noted the chromatics don’t have it.
      Most dragons in 3.5 couldn’t change shape, either. Page 15 of Dragons of Eberron includes the Alternate Form feat, specifically with the idea that any dragon could LEARN to assume humanoid form. Likewise, I would assume that the deep cover agents of the Lords of Dust are using something considerably more powerful than disguise self, such as the Cloak of Khyber spell from 3.5. Part of the point of NPCs is they can do what you need them to do.

      Another change is that anyone could have the aberrant dragonmark would that include dragons?
      No. The INTENTION is that this only includes humanoids. You’re not going to find fey, elementals, or beasts with aberrant dragonmarks; the same goes for dragons.

  4. Dragons of Eberron says that Ourenilach the gold loredrake claimed chromatic dragons were corrupted when the blood of Siberys mingled with Khyber when dragons were first born on Eberron. Are the chromatic heads of the favored form of The Daughter of Khyber seen as evidence in support of this antichromatic idea of metallic supremacy? Is the metallic/chromatic distinction something you think is worth holding onto in the transition between editions?

    • The metallic/chromatic distinction is largely meaningless in Eberron. Ourenilach’s crazy theory is something we added so that people who WANTED to explore it could, but it’s a crazy conspiracy theory and most dragons don’t take it seriously. So like many things in Eberron, it’s up to you. We added it as a way for you TO expan d on that division if you want to, but you can also ignore it, which is what I generally do.

  5. Sometimes its seems like the Couatl are all gone (except in spirit) and sometime it seems like there’s always just one left somewhere was not sacrificed to bind a Lord of Dust. If one chooses to place a physically living couatl of any level of potence, egg to Wyrm, in Argonnessen, what would make them different from any other dragon. Are couatls like, celebrities amongst other dragons, do dragons wish they could be couatl the way people wish they could be dragons?

    • If one chooses to place a physically living couatl of any level of potence, egg to Wyrm, in Argonnessen, what would make them different from any other dragon.
      Couatl aren’t dragons, and they don’t go from egg to wyrm. They’re immortal celestials. The only reason couatl would remain outside the Flame is if they had a specific purpose to fulfill. So you wouldn’t find one just hanging out at the dragon pub; they would be watching over the prison of an overlord, or consulting on the Prophecy, or something like that. They’re treated with respect, but dragons don’t yearn to BE couatl. It’s sort of like the attitude of the Dhakaani toward the Gatekeepers. WE know the Dhakaani couldn’t of defeated the daelkyr with out the Gatekeepers, but the Dhakaani prefer to focus on the deeds of dar champions rather than orc druids. The dragons respect that the couatl made a great sacrifice, but that was tens of thousands of years ago — long before they were born — and they’re more interested in the stories of the heroic dragons than the couatl.

  6. How much information Khovaire people knows about Argonnessen? In sense…they know enought to it be in a map? That certainly have dragons there?

    I never have sure about it.

    • It’s on a map. People know there’s dragons there and that people who go there don’t come back. They know the Serens live on the islands around it. That’s about it.

  7. What ramifications does “The dragons of Argonnessen believe that they are the children of Eberron and Siberys” have metaphysically? According to Dragon Magazine #418’s article on the Children of Winter, if the energies of both Khyber and Siberys were to be cut off, all dragons would be wiped out. Presumably, this is because of dragons’ connection to Siberys.

    Does this mean that dragons are inextricably linked to and dependent on the Ring of Siberys? What about dragons who follow the path of the Child of Eberron, like Vvaraak? Have they figured out how to tap into Eberron’s power instead? Could they survive being cut off from the Ring of Siberys?

    • What ramifications does “The dragons of Argonnessen believe that they are the children of Eberron and Siberys” have metaphysically?

      This is described in the legend at the beginning of Dragons of Eberron: Siberys had fallen in battle, but power remained within his blood. Filled with the purest essence of magic, that blood fell on Eberron, merging life and magic to produce new creatures with the strength of both Progenitors: dragons. Where the blood of Siberys struck the clouds, silver dragons were born. They don’t LITERALLY think they are children of Eberron and Khyber, they think that they are the product of the blood of Eberron falling on Khyber, and that this is the source of their innate magic.

      Does this mean that dragons are inextricably linked to and dependent on the Ring of Siberys?

      Yes, though if an Eberron dragon were to travel to Faerun somehow, it’s possible that it would immediately start to draw power from the Weave, etc. In Eberron, the Ring of Siberys is the primary source of arcane power; but if a realm has arcane power, dragons could tap into it. It’s also the case that being cut off from the Ring wouldn’t INSTANTLY kill a dragon, which is why they don’t die in antimagic fields; it would be a slow process.

      What about dragons who follow the path of the Child of Eberron, like Vvaraak?

      A Child of Eberron is still a DRAGON. They still possess the spellcasting abilities of a dragon (again, under 3.5 rules) and even when they cast druid spells they cast them as arcane spells. They aren’t somehow changing the polarity of their life force, they are just learning the druidic mysteries and can use that knowledge to cast druid spells. So this wouldn’t save them from the theoretical destruction of magic.

      • I think it makes sense for a wide variety of creatures that their biology is supported by specific factors. A dragon should not be able to exist; that it can is because it has an arcane biology and thus it needs the arcane to survive. Cut it off and it would be like a human with a vitamin deficiency; early on there would be no symptoms but things would slowly progress all the way to organ failure and death after a fairly long time. Heck you could have the same be true for other creatures that have supernatural abilities (and possibly not tied to arcane support but to connection with a plane). Maybe there are even native species that were wiped out because they fed off Eberron’s Dal Quor.

  8. Dragons clearly look on the Lords of Dust and the overlords as worthy foes. However, why does every dragon other than Vvaraak simply shrug their shoulders towards the daelkyr, the same daelkyr who are said to have destroyed worlds other than Eberron?

    • However, why does every dragon other than Vvaraak simply shrug their shoulders towards the daelkyr, the same daelkyr who are said to have destroyed worlds other than Eberron?

      Remember that dragons don’t care about the fate of humanoid civilizations. The destruction of a goblin empire is irrelevant to them. They care about threats to Argonnessen, and the simple fact is that the daelkyr didn’t threaten Argonnessen. Perhaps they MIGHT have, if they hadn’t been stopped, and if so, they would have been dealt with at that time. But again, consider that the dragons took no action in the conflict between the giants and the quori, not even when the giants destroyed Crya. It takes a LOT to make it worth draconic intervention. So certainly, it’s possible the dragons would fight against the daelkyr, but they might very well wait until human civilization had been wiped out before they concluded it was truly serious.

      Could this be a terrible mistake? Sure. It could be arrogance and overconfidence and lead to the destruction of the world. But they ARE arrogant and overconfident. Again, if dragons were wise and unfettered in the use of their powers, we wouldn’t need player characters to fight the daelkyr. By saying that the dragons won’t get involved until AFTER the daelkyr devastate the Five Nations, we establish why people need heroes.

      • A second key point here is that Vvaraak wasn’t saving the WORLD from the daelkyr; she was trying to save the humanoids of Khorvaire from the daelkyr. It’s quite likely that she proposed it to the Conclave, who studied the threads of the Prophecy and said “We don’t see a threat to Argonnessen.” She said “Yes, but hundreds of thousands of humanoids will die,” and they said “So?” It’s the sympathy for HUMANOIDS that drove her actions.

        • Would this change because of the dragonmarks though? A renewed attack by the Daelkyr would threaten to wipe out or even worse corrupt huge chunks of the prophecy written on the skins of the humanoid races of Khorvaire.
          So if something similar happened now, the argument would not be sympathy but protecting the prophecy. Members of the Conclave who believe that the dragonmarked should be wiped out would probably not care but those who opposed that approach are likely a majority given the formation of the Chamber.

          • Would this change because of the dragonmarks though?

            The point is that it’s the Prophecy itself that would drive the draconic response. Loss of dragonmarks is irrelevant; the Prophecy existed before dragonmarks, and it will continue to exist if they’re destroyed. The main issue is whether the read of the Prophecy shows a significant likelihood of threats to Argonnessen. In the case of the daelkyr, the Conclave analyzed it and said “Looks like this goblin empire will be wiped out, but they will resolve the situation in the process, no reason for us intervene.” Vvaraak said “But what about the millions of humanoids who will die in the process?” and the Conclave said “That’s not our problem. They’re humanoids; give it a thousand years and they’ll be fine.”

  9. Is Io’lokar looked down upon by the majority of Argonnessen precisely because it reeks too much of the kind of draconic imperialism that might release Tiamat?

    • Not at all. Io’lokar is within Argonnessen and it’s not especially imperialistic or tyrannical. Those that oppose it do so because it is an example of Aureon’s Folly: dragons shouldn’t share their knowledge with humanoids.

      • Io’lokar struck me more as being similar to the alien zoo or the Bottle City of Kandor that Superman has in his Fortress of Solitude than anything overtly tyrannical or imperial. Pulpy sure, but not overtly cruel and done more out of a sense of preservation than a desire to dominate.

  10. Page 175 of the 4e Eberron Campaign Guide says:

    “An obscure myth holds that Aeren gave a prophecy to the founders of Aerenal. This plan for the elves is one of the purposes of the Undying Court. Aeren’s word might be a portion of the Draconic Prophecy, or the two could conflict. Whatever the case, a faction of Argonnessen’s dragons has tried for eons to wrest Aeren’s prophecy from Aerenal.”

    Is this one of the main reasons for the draconic invasions of Aerenal? What is so important about this prophecy, and which faction of Argonnessen’s dragons wants it?

    • Is this one of the main reasons for the draconic invasions of Aerenal?
      No, I don’t think so. A military assault is a stupid way to try to acquire a prophecy; I’d expect this to involve espionage, not the Light of Siberys clashing with Tairnadal warriors. Page 11 of Dragons of Eberron discusses possible reasons for the Elf-Dragon Wars.

      What is so important about this prophecy…
      By the text, it defines the purpose of the Undying Court. These dragons don’t know what it is, and they would like to.

      which faction of Argonnessen’s dragons wants it?

      I don’t think “Faction” in this case refers to the major power groups like the Conclave or the Light of Siberys, which is why I wouldn’t put it as a reason for the Elf-Dragon Wars. I think you’re talking about a single flight of dragons, possibly a cabal within the Chamber, but who haven’t been able to convince the Chamber as a whole of the importance of this.

      Essentially, the question is how this is going to make a good ADVENTURE. If there are a dozen dragons who have been trying for thousands of years to infiltrate Aerenal and steal this information, the adventurers could become their catspaws or be critical in foiling their efforts. To me, this is more manageable and interesting than something involving the armies of the Light of Siberys.

  11. I dig the “ant farm” analogy. The shorthand I’ve used with my players is that dragons see humanoids like we see mice. One is kind of cute. Maybe a pet. A little travelling party of mice with swords and wands is SUPER cute! But thousands of them crawling around, pooping, and trying to swarm you would be disgusting and unhygienic. And if the mice started chewing on power cables in a farmer’s old shed, that could threaten to burn down his entire field. In that case, the farmer would take action.

  12. So I am inclined to think that Erandis was orchestrated through the umbrella of magebreeding rather than a more “traditional” half-dragon conception.

    • Many overlords hold dominion over a specific geographic area. The Daughter of Khyber operates under a different limitation: her domain is DRAGONS. The whole point of dragons having to pull back to Argonnessen is that the DoK was influencing dragons across Eberron, even though her prison is in Argonnessen. So it’s not that her RANGE would increase if she was released, it’s that the strength of her influence would increase; more dragons would fall under her dominion, and her hold over these victims would be stronger.

  13. Dragons are huge, and should have huge appetites accordingly. Do the Argonnessens have some secrets of farming beyond what the Five Nations (which use Magebred beasts to plow fields irrigated by magically controlled storms) have? Make large use the Create Food and Water spell (which adult Bronzes get as an SLA and many metalics can cast as a spell)?

    • I thought there was mention of a Lamannian zone that produced a year’s harvest in a day…

    • The general idea of Argonnessen is that it’s literally tens of thousands of years more advanced than human civilization. As such, it’s not simply a question of the SLAs that dragons possess; it’s about the eldritch machines they’ve built and the epic magic they’ve unleashed. Given that they have sufficient power to permanently warp the way time and space behaves in Xen’drik, the idea that they may either have created a form of conjuration-based food replicator or created fields where crops grow at an insanely accelerated rate are equally plausible. We’ve already called out that the Vast is artificially stocked so that hunters don’t run out of things to hunt. The main point is that Argonnessen isn’t just a bunch of dragons; it’s a magical CIVILIZATION where its common for the elders to wield 8th and 9th level spells, and they’ve had tens of thousands of years to figure out civic applications for that magic.

  14. What would you consider to be the relationship of the Storm Guardians to the rest of Argonessen, given that otherwise Argonnessen generally doesn’t touch Sarlona? Are they active agents of Argonnessen? Rogues? Chamber? Perhaps a group originally charged with tasks by Argonnessen that have since become isolated and independent of Argonnessen? It seems different than other agents like in Q’barra and Xen’drik where it is generally a single dragon watching over a place rather than a…community?

    • They’re like Rhashaak: A flight appointed long ago as guardians (most likely by the Light of Siberys) intended to be self-sufficient; as you say they have become isolated from Argonnessen over time. To go into more detail I would have to spend more time analyzing and discussing Adar overall. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I didn’t write the Sarlona regions aside from Riedra and I might take a different approach to some elements, including the Storm Guardians; I’d need to consider the region as a whole to decide, which will have to wait until a full Dragonmark on Adar.

        • I’ve put Sarlona related topics on the polls for the last few months, they just haven’t been picked up. I’ll put Adar on next month’s poll.

          • Awesome! I had been voting for the Sarlona ones hoping we’d get to Adar eventually.

  15. Of whom do you belive magebreed (as it seems to be by the description in volos) the guard drakes, the dragons of Argonessen or the daughter of khyber (as it was tiamat in volos, possibly as a lesser Half-dragon rakshasa)? And think it was as disposable shock troopers or as companions or even guardians for the hoards?

    What influence have the dragons had on the underwater civilizations? Be it rogues or attacks.

  16. A thing that I always love in your writing is how you are able to imagine civilisation and psychology of non human creatures.
    Now we know something of dragons society, why they live isolated, how advanced they are and how little they care of lesser creatures. May you spend e few words on how you imagine dragons’ psychology, beside arrogance and proud? For example I wonder how it effects them to KNOW as a matter of fact that the more they will grow older, the more they will grow in magic.

  17. According to Dragons of Eberron, dragons tend to be driven insane if they take up psionics. Why is this the case?

    • Because the default 3.5 dragons of Eberron are fundamentally arcane creatures, who naturally develop sorcerous power. They are essentially BORN to be sorcerers, and don’t adapt well to manipulating or channeling psionic energies. However, it’s not IMPOSSIBLE for them to do so, just dangerous and unusual.

      If you want psionic dragons, you can use 3.5’s gem dragons. Personally, I would make gem dragons the dragons associated with the githyanki, and say that they are also from the lost Eberron of the Gith, thus explaining their unusual abilities and physiology.

      • “If you want psionic dragons, you can use 3.5’s gem dragons.”

        I must warn anyone who is interested in this that Gem Dragons were updated (or printed in the case of Obsidian) in that relatively small window between 3.5’s core release and the update of psionics to 3.5. This means they still use the terrible 3.0 psionics and will need to update their stat blocks if you want them to use a psionics system that’s actually functional.

        Fluff wise it’s a good match though.

  18. This makes me think of Niv-Mizzet’s block from Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica.

    Just to get an idea of power scaling, where would you place a dragon of equivalent power to Niv-Mizzet in Argonessen. Would they be a relatively standard specimen of the elder dragons, or a savant even among their own kind.

    • Niv-Mizzet is effectively a 17th level sorcerer with a number of unique abilities (legendary actions, the ability to maintain concentration on two spells), with mental ability scores on par with the great wyrms of 3.5. Personally, I’d rate that as weaker than Silaesteron or Zenobaal (who was CR 36 in 3.5 terms). So I’d say Niv-Mizzet would be an exceptional great wyrm, but not the pinnacle of what you can encounter in Argonnessen.

  19. Why have dragons expanded into Sarlona only in the form of the Storm Guardians? Are dragons afraid of Sarlona’s absence from the Draconic Prophecy? Do the Storm Guardians care about Tiamat at all, or are they solely focused on Ran Iishiv? What mortal fear does Ran Iishiv even represent (destruction?), and why are the Storm Guardians squarely concerned about that? Are there dragonborn created by the Storm Guardians?

    • Why have dragons expanded into Sarlona only in the form of the Storm Guardians?

      This is spelled out fairly clearly in Secrets of Sarlona. Like Rhashaak in Q’barra, they are guardians—”Concerned with the protection of a realm shaped long ago… the Storm Guardians watch from above and below.” They didn’t EXPAND into Sarlona, they were STATIONED there as guardians, hence their title. Rhashaak is another example, but there are likely other such Draconic guardians watching over overlord prisons who’ve simply never been mentioned.

      Do the Storm Guardians care about Tiamat at all, or are they solely focused on Ran Iishiv?

      The Storm Guardians CARE about Tiamat, but they have no duties related to her aside from “Remain true to your purpose.” Again, Tiamat draws strength when dragons dominate lesser creatures; the Storm Guardians act to preserve the greater good.

      What mortal fear does Ran Iishiv even represent (destruction?), and why are the Storm Guardians squarely concerned about that?
      Ran Iishiv isn’t my creation, and I don’t know what its creator had in mind. This is where I’ve said that if I write about Adar, Syrakn, and Sarlona I would make changes; one of those changes would be to more clearly define Ran Iishiv, it’s history, and its impact on the region. At this moment, I don’t have that information. With that said, it’s described as “Wrath Incarnate” and “The Unmaker” which both sound like its tied to destruction, yes.

      Are there dragonborn created by the Storm Guardians?
      That’s a decision I wouldn’t want to make without further considering the history of the Storm Guardians, the nature of Ran Iishiv, and the overall story of Adar. If I write a Dragonmark about Adar, it will include this information.

      • What makes some overlords worthy of dragon patrol while others are not? Tiamat, Masvirik, and Ran Iishiv all have dragon patrols, but others do not seem particularly dragon-overseen, such as the shards of Rak Tulkhesh, or Sul Khatesh’s Arcanix prison.

        • There’s a wide range of answers.

          First: The primary reason to have a guardian in place is because they are NEEDED. What’s called out with Rhashaak in Q’barra is that the guardian is an important element of the binding — and that the reason Rhashaak has never been replaced even though they are corrupted is because they still serve that function in spite of their corruption. Meanwhile, there’s no REASON to have an obvious draconic presence around the prison of Sul Khatesh. If there’s no guardian, it’s because there’s nothing useful that a guardian can do. If there is a guardian, it means that their presence is somehow required — or that it’s important to have an observer in place.

          Second: Rhashaak and the Storm Guardians were put in place LOOOONG ago. Draconic society isn’t entirely stagnant. In my opinion, both are relics of a time when the the Light of Siberys believed a more active presence was useful — and that over the course of tens of thousands of years many of those posts were abandoned. It may be that there WAS a draconic outpost near Arcanix but that fifteen thousand years ago the Conclave decided it was unnecessary and recalled the guardians.

          THIRD: The fact that we don’t SEE dragons doesn’t mean they aren’t there. There’s no visible dragon and garrison of dragonborn at Arcanix. However, in MY Eberron there is DEFINITELY a disguised Chamber observer on staff at Arcanix. Again, they don’t have a garrison because there’s no POINT to a garrison; but there’s an observer who’s ready to report if there’s unexpected trouble with Sul Khatesh.

          FOURTH: In some cases, there might not be an observer on site because it’s TOO DANGEROUS. If I decided that there WASN’T an observer near Sul Khatesh’s prison, I’d say that it’s because the last three observers have all ended up being corrupted by Sul Khatesh and it’s too dangerous for them to send more. If I followed this path, I’d also introduce those three corrupted dragons as agents of Sul Khatesh within the campaign.

          That last point is, as with so many of these questions, the key one. What’s going to make the best story for your Arcanix campaign? That one of the NPCs IS a dragon observer? Or that there’s no observers because it’s too dangerous — and that there are in fact corrupted dragons serving Sul Khatesh?

          • You raise a curious point concerning corrupted guardians.

            Does this mean that, for example, it would compromise Masvirik’s prison if Rhashaak was to die, because he still serves a vital function to the binding? Is Rhashaak aware of this?

            Why do the dragons of Argonnessen execute the guardians of the Pit of Five Sorrows? Surely, even if corrupted, they still serve the function of binding Tiamat?

            Likewise, why would dragons care about hypothetical guardians of Sul Khatesh being corrupted? Again, would they not serve the function of binding Sul Khatesh all the same?

            Are the Storm Guardians corrupted by Ran Iishiv?

            • Does this mean that, for example, it would compromise Masvirik’s prison if Rhashaak was to die, because he still serves a vital function to the binding? Is Rhashaak aware of this?

              That’s correct. This is why Rhashaak himself is trapped in Haka’torvhak; he is part of Masvirik and part of the binding. However, it’s not that killing him would simply release Masvirik outright; but it would weaken his bonds.

              Why do the dragons of Argonnessen execute the guardians of the Pit of Five Sorrows? Surely, even if corrupted, they still serve the function of binding Tiamat?

              There’s nothing “sure” about that. The most important thing to understand is that every overlord is unique. The form of their binding, the influence they wield while bound, the key to releasing them: these are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT for every overlord. Corrupted guardians of Tiamat don’t serve the purpose of binding her; instead they become her agents and seek to release her. Likewise for the corrupted agents of Sul Khatesh I was suggesting. As I mentioned, Rhashaak is TRAPPED by Masvirik’s binding and couldn’t leave if he wanted to; he is LITERALLY part of the binding, while there’s no equivalent at the Pit of Five Sorrows. This is in part because of the nature of the overlords. Sul Khatesh and Tiamat both corrupt the MIND. Masvirik alters the body, which is why Rhashaak is now a half-fiend. Rak Tulkhesh drives people to slaughter. Ran Iishiv doesn’t have that same corrupting effect, so the Storm Guardians aren’t in the same danger as guardians of the Pit of Five Sorrows, which is one reason there ARE Storm Guardians and not an equivalent enclave around Sul Khatesh.

              This article might be useful.

          • Disguised Chamber agents always make for a good story, and just that simple hook really sparks the imagination.

    • What mortal fear does Ran Iishiv even represent (destruction?)

      Reviewing SoS more closely, Ran Iishiv definitely represents destruction. Don’t get too bogged down in the idea that “overlords embody things mortals fear.” They embody terrifying and destructive concepts. Pure, unfettered destruction is both terrifying and destructive. It’s a little more abstract than some of the others, but destruction is certainly a thing mortals SHOULD fear.

      • Is Ran Iishiv some sort of overlord unusually touched by extraplanar influences, in this case, Kythri, rather than a conventional overlord outright?

        Alternatively, is Ran Iishiv not an overlord at all, simply mistaken for one, and instead some sort of Kythrian force of destruction?

        • If you wanted them to be, sure. But in my Eberron, Ran Iishiv is an overlord, and overlords are entire entities of Eberron.

  20. If dragons have the ability to “permanently warp the way time and space behave”, why do they not wear clothes only when impersonating lesser creatures?

    • I’m not sure I understand the question. Are you asking “If dragons are so powerful and advanced, why don’t they wear clothes?” or is there something specifically tied to warping time and space that would suggest they might wear clothes?

      Assuming the former, why does a dragon NEED clothes? It has no need of protection against the elements. If you mean “Why don’t they use magical equipment”, I think some dragons DO use magical equipment. I think many dragons of Argonnessen DO use rings, amulets, and similar. In Dragons of Eberron, Zenobaal has bracers of armor, an amulet of mighty fists, and a ring of protection; in my opinion, all of these shift with them between forms, though the bracers are only USEFUL in a humanoid form that lacks their impressive natural armor.

      So I think clothing such as humans wear would be highly inconvenient for a dragon to put on. However, I do think the dragons of Argonnessen use equipment and personal adornment.

  21. How are the dragons of Argonnessen as a aquatic faction as the black and bronze dragons are amphibious. Have they influenced or cursed or combated aquatic factions such as the dominion? Or would the dragons simply not cared save the what Lurker, Krakens and Aboleths are doing.

    Or are dragons too limited underwater?

    • This is addressed on page 130 of Exploring Eberron.
      Dragons have much the same relationship with the Thunder Sea that they have with Khorvaire. There are a few rogue dragons (black, bronze, green, or gold) who pursue their personal goals in isolated regions of the Thunder Sea. Elsewhere, the Chamber monitors the Dominion just as it watches humanity, intervening only if its interests are threatened.

      Krakens are addressed on the same page.
      Krakens are spread across all of the oceans of Khorvaire. For the most part, they don’t work together, in part to avoid the interest of Argonnessen. One kraken dominating an island of humanoids is of no concern to the dragons; an alliance of krakens is another story.

  22. How do dragons treat the non-dragons enlisted in the Light of Siberys?
    And how do those non-dragons feel about their treatment?

    • The primary example we have of this is the Serens. Following this model, I think most non-dragons in the Light of Siberys see it as a sacred cause they’re blessed to be a part of. Consider that most of them have been raised in the Light and literally know no other life; dragons would only recruit beyond Argonnessen under exceptional circumstances and such character would be edge cases.

  23. Love what you did with the new Ravenloft book’s ideas in Dread Metrol! Any chance we’ll see a 5e update of Dragons of Eberron to go with the new FIzban book? (Looks pointedly in the direction of WotC to encourage them to send an advance copy to KB for this purpose)

  24. I don’t think I’ve seen the word Io’lokar appear on this blog or in any of your writings.
    Does that city exist in Kanon? It’s a very interesting place.

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