Dragonmark: The Families of House Tharashk

The Tharashk Triumvirate by Anne Stokes, from Dragonmarked

House Tharashk is the youngest Dragonmarked house. The Mark of Finding first appeared a thousand years ago, and over the course of centuries the dragonmarked formed three powerful clans. It was these clans that worked with House Sivis, joining together in the model of the eastern houses. The name of the House—Tharashk—is an old Orc word that means united. Despite this, heirs of the house typically use their clan name rather than the house name. They may be united, but in daily life they remain ‘Aashta and Velderan.

House United: One, Three, and Many

The Dragonmarks are driven by more than simple genetics. In most dragonmarked houses, about half of the children develop some level of dragonmark. Over the course of a thousand years of excoriates and voluntary departures, many people in Khorvaire have some trace of dragonmarked blood. And yet, foundlings—people who develop a dragonmark outside a house—are so rare that many foundlings are surprised to learn that they have a connection to a house. Many houses allow outsiders to marry into their great lines, and the number of dragonmarked heirs born to such couples within the houses is dramatically higher than those born to excoriates outside of the houses. Scholars have proposed many theories to explain this discrepancy. Some say that it’s tied to proximity—that being around large numbers of dragonmarked people helps to nuture the latent mark within a child. Others say that it’s related to the tools and equipment used by the houses, that just being around a creation forge helps promote the development of the Mark of Making. One of the most interesting theories comes from the sage Ohnal Caldyn. A celebrated student of the Draconic Prophecy, Caldyn argued that the oft-invoked connection between dragonmarks and the Prophecy might be misunderstood—that rather than each dragonmarked individual having significance, the Prophecy might be more interested in dragonmarked families. It’s been over two thousand years since the Mark of Making appeared on the Vown and Juran lines of Cyre—and yet those families remain pillars of the house today.

This helps to explain the core structure of Tharashk, sometimes described as one, three, and many. There are many minor families within House Tharashk, but each of these is tied to one of the three great clans: Velderan, Torrn, and ‘Aashta. The house is based on the alliance between these three clans, and where most dragonmarked houses have a single matriarch or patriarch, Tharashk is governed by the Triumvirate, a body comprised of a leader from each of these clans.

When creating an adventurer or NPC from House Tharashk, you should decide which of the great clans they’re tied to. Each clan is tied to lesser families, so you’re not required to use one of these three names. A few lesser families are described here along with each clan, but you can make up lesser families. So you can be Jalo’uurga of House Tharashk; the question is which clan the ‘Uurga Tharashk are connected to. In theory, the loyalty of a Tharashk heir should be to house first, clan second, and family third. Heirs are expected to set aside family feuds and to focus on the greater picture, to pursue the rivalry between Deneith and Tharashk instead of sabotaging house efforts because of an old feud between ‘Uurga and Tulkar. But those feuds are never forgotten—and when it doesn’t threaten the interests of house or clan, heirs may be driven by these ancient rivalries.

To d’ or not to d’? Tharashk has never been bound by the traditions of the other houses, and this can be clearly seen in Tharashk names. Just look to the three Triumvirs of the house. All three possess dragonmarks, yet in the three of them we see three different conventions. Khandar’aashta doesn’t bother with the d’ prefix or use the house name. Daric d’Velderan uses his clan name, but appends the d’ as a nod to his dragonmark. Maagrim Torrn d’Tharashk uses the d’ but applies it to the house name; no one uses d’Torrn. Maagrim’s use of the house name makes a statement about her devotion to the alliance and the house. Daric’s use of the ‘d is a nod to the customs of the other houses. While Khandar makes no concessions to easterners. He may the one of the three leaders of House Tharashk, but he is Aashta. As an heir of House Tharashk, you could follow any of these styles, and you could change it over the course of your career as your attitude changes.

Orcs, Half-Orcs, and Humans. By canon, the Mark of Finding is the only dragonmark that appears on two ancestries—human and half-orc. However, by the current rules, the benefits of the Mark replace everything except age, size, and speed. Since humans and half-orcs have the same size and speed, functionally it makes very little difference which you are. It’s always been strange that this one mark bridges two species when the Khoravar marks don’t, and when orcs can’t develop it. As a result, in my campaign I say that any character with the Mark of Finding has orc blood in their veins. The choice of “human” or “half-orc” reflects how far removed you are from your orc ancestors and how obvious it is to people. But looking to the Triumvirs above, they’re ALL Jhorgun’taal; it’s simply that it’s less obvious with Daric d’Velderan. In my campaign I’d say that Daric has yellow irises, a slight point to his ears, and notable canine teeth; at a glance most would consider him to be human, but his dragonmark is proof that he’s Jhorgun’taal.

Characters and Lesser Clans. The entries that follow include suggestions for player characters from each clan and mention a few lesser clans associated with the major ones. These are only suggestions. If you want to play an evil orc barbarian from Clan Velderan, go ahead—and the lesser clans mentioned here are just a few examples.

The Azhani Language. Until relatively recently, the Marches were isolated from the rest of Khorvaire. The Goblin language took root during the Age of Monsters, but with the arrival of human refugees and the subsequent evolution of the blended culture, a new language evolved. Azhani is a blending of Goblin, Riedran, and a little of the long-dead Orc language. It’s close enough to Goblin that someone who speaks Goblin can understand Azhani, and vice-versa; however, nuances will be lost. For purposes of gameplay, one can list the language as Goblin (Azhani). More information about the Azhani language can be found in Don Bassinthwaite’s Dragon Below novels.

Clan Velderan

  • Capital: Urthhold
  • Triumvir: Daric d’Velderan
  • Primary Role: Far trade, diplomacy and administration, inquisitives
  • Common Traits: Curiosity, Imagination, Charisma, Ambition

Before the rise of House Tharashk, most of the clans and tribes of the Shadow Marches lived in isolation, interacting only with their immediate neighbors. Velderan has always been the exception. The Velderan have long been renowned as fisherfolk and boatmen, driving barges and punts along the Glum River and the lesser waters of the Marches and trading with all of the clans. The clan is based in the coastal town of Urthhold, and for centuries they were the only clan that had any contact with the outside world. It was through this rare contact that reports of an unknown dragonmark made their way to House Sivis, and it was Velderan guides who took Sivis explorers into the Marches.

That spirit remains alive today. Where ‘Aashta and Torrn hold tightly to ancient—and fundamentally opposed—traditions, it’s the Velderan who dream of the future and embrace change, and their enthusiasm and charisma that often sways the others. Torrn and ‘Aashta are both devoted to the work of the house and the prosperity of their union, but it’s the Velderan who truly love meeting new people and spreading to new locations, and who are always searching for new tools and techniques. Stern ‘Aashta are always prepared to negotiate from a position of strength, but it’s the more flexible Velderan who most often serve as the diplomats of the house. While they work with House Lyrandar for long distance trade and transport, the Velderan also remain the primary river runners and guides within the Marches.

In the wider world, the Velderan are often encountered running enclaves in places where finesse and diplomacy are important. Beyond this, the Velderan are most devoted to the inquisitive services of the house; Velderan typically prefer unraveling mysteries to the more brutal work of bounty hunting. The Velderan have no strong ties to either the Gatekeepers or the “Old Ways” of Clan ‘Aashta; they are most interested in exploring new things, and are the most likely to adopt new faiths or traditions. Many outsiders conclude that the Velderan are largely human, and they do have a relatively small number of full orcs as compared to the other clans, but Jhorguun’taal are in the majority in Velderan; it’s just that most Velderan Jhorgun’taal are more human in appearance than the stereotype of the half-orc that’s common in the Five Nations.

Overall, the Velderan are the glue that holds Tharashk together. They’ve earned their reputation for optimism and idealism, and this is reflected by their Triumvir. However, there is a cabal of elders within the house—The Veldokaa—who are determined to maintain the union of Tharashk but to ensure that Velderan remains first among equals. Even while Velderan mediates between Torrn and ‘Aashta, the Veldokaa makes sure to keep their tensions alive so that they rarely ally against Velderan interests. Likewise, while it’s ‘Aashta who is most obvious in its ambition and aggression, it’s the Veldokaa who engage in more subtle sabotage of rivals. So Velderan wears a friendly face, and Daric d’Velderan is sincere in his altruism. But he’s not privy to all the plans of the Veldokaa, and there are other clan leaders—such as Khalar Velderan, who oversees Tharashk operations in Q’barra—who put ambition ahead of altruism.

Velderan Characters. With no strong ties to the Gatekeepers or the Dragon Below, Velderan adventurers are most often rangers, rogues, or even bards. Velderan are interested in the potential of arcane science, and can produce wizards or artificers. Overall, the Velderan are the most optimistic and altruistic of the Clans and the most likely to have good alignments—but an adventurer with ties to the Veldokaa could be tasked with secret work on behalf of the clan. Velderan most often speak Common, and are equally likely to speak Azhani Goblin or traditional Goblin.

Triumvir. Clan Velderan is currently represented by Daric d’Velderan. Daric embodies the altruistic spirit of his clan, and hopes to see Tharashk become a positive force in the world. His disarming humor and flexibility play a critical role in balancing the stronger tempers of Maagrim and Khandar. Daric wants to see the house expand, and is always searching for new opportunities and paths it can follow, but he isn’t as ruthless as Khandar’aashta and dislikes the growing tension between Tharashk and House Deneith. Daric is aware of the Veldokaa and knows that they support him as triumvir because his gentle nature hides their subtle agenda; he focuses on doing as much good as he can in the light while trusting his family to do what they must in the shadows.

Lesser Clans. The Orgaal are an orc-majority clan, and given this people often forget they’re allied with Velderan; as such, the Veldokaa often use them as spies and observers. The Torshaa are expert boatmen and are considered the most reliable guides in the Shadow Marches. The Vaalda are the finest hunters among the Velderan; it’s whispered that some among them train to hunt two-legged prey, and they produce Assassin rogues as well as hunters.

Clan Torrn

  • Capital: Valshar’ak
  • Triumvir: Maagrim Torrn d’Tharashk
  • Primary Role: Prospecting and mining, infrastructure, primal magic
  • Common Traits: Stoicism, Stability, Wisdom

Torrn is the oldest of the Tharashk clans. The city of Valshar’ak has endured since days of Dhakaan, and holds a stone platform known as Vvaraak’s Throne. While true, fully initiated Gatekeepers are rare even within the Marches, the Torrn have long held to the broad traditions of the sect, opposing the Old Ways of ‘Aashta and its allies. Clan Torrn has the strongest traditions of primal magic within the Reaches, and ever since the union Torrn gleaners can be found providing vital services across the Marches; it was Torrn druids who raised the mighty murk oaks that serve as the primary supports of Zarash’ak. However, the clan isn’t mired in the past. The Torrn value tradition and are slow to change, but over the last five centuries they have studied the arcane science of the east and blended it with their primal traditions; there are magewrights among the Torrn as well as gleaners.

The Torrn are known for their stoicism and stability; a calm person could be described as being as patient as a Torrn. They refuse to act in haste, carefully studying all options and relying on wisdom rather than being driven by impulse or ambition. Of the three clans, they have the greatest respect for the natural world, but they also know how to make the most efficient use of its bounty. While ‘Aashta have always been known as the best hunters and Velderan loves the water, Torrn is closest to the earth. They are the finest prospectors of the Marches, and are usually found in charge of any major Tharashk mining operations, blending arcane science and dragonmarked tools with the primal magic of their ancestors. Most seek to minimize long-term damage to the environment, but there are Torrn overseers—especially those born outside the Marches—who are focused first and foremost on results, placing less weight on their druidic roots and embracing the economic ambitions of the house.

Most Torrn follow the basic principles of the Gatekeepers, which are not unlike the traditions of the Silver Flame—stand together, oppose supernatural evil, don’t traffic with aberrations. However, most apply these ideas to their own clan and to a wider degree, the united house. Torrn look out for Tharashk, but most aren’t concerned with protecting the world or fighting the daelkyr. Torrn miners may use sustainable methods in their mining, but they are driven by the desire for profit and to see their house prosper. However, there is a deep core of devoted Gatekeepers at the heart of Torrn. Known as the Valshar’ak Seal, they also seek to help Tharashk flourish as a house—because they wish to use its resources and every-increasing influence in the pursuit of their ancient mission. Again, most Torrn follow the broad traditions of the Gatekeepers, but only a devoted few know of the Valshar’ak Seal and its greater goals.

Within the world, the Torrn are most often associated with mining and prospecting, as well as construction and maintaining the general infrastructure of the house. The Torrn Jhorguun’taal typically resemble their orc ancestors, and it’s generally seen as the Clan with the greatest number of orcs.

Torrn Characters. Whether or not they’re tied to the Gatekeepers, Torrn has deep primal roots. Tharashk druids are almost always from Torrn, and Tharashk rangers have a strong primal focus; a Torrn Gatekeeper could also be an Oath of the Ancients paladin, with primal trappings instead of divine. The Torrn are stoic and hold to tradition, and tend toward neutral alignments. Most speak Azhani Goblin among themselves, though they learn Common as the language of trade.

Triumvir. Maagrim Torrn d’Tharashk represents the Torrn in the Triumvirate. The oldest Triumvir, she’s known for her wisdom and her patience, though she’s not afraid to shout down Khandar’aashta when he goes too far. Maagrim supports the Valshar’ak Seal, but as a Triumvir her primary focus is on the business and the success of the house; she helps channel resources to the Seal, but on a day to day basis she is most concerned with monitoring mining operations and maintaining infrastructure. She is firmly neutral, driven neither by cruelty or compassion; Maagrim does what must be done.

Lesser Clans. The Torruk are a small, orc-majority clan with strong ties to the Gatekeepers, known for fiercely hunting aberrations in the Reaches and for clashing with the ‘Aashta. The Brokaa are among the finest miners in the house and are increasingly more concerned with profits than with ancient traditions.

Clan ‘Aashta

  • Capital: Patrahk’n
  • Triumvir: Khandar’aashta
  • Primary Role: Mercenary trade, Droaamite relations, bounty hunting
  • Common Traits: Aggression, Courage, Strength

The ‘Aashta have long been known as the fiercest clan of the Shadow Marches. Their ancestral home, Patrahk’n, is on the eastern edge of the Shadow Marches and throughout history they’ve fought with worg packs from the Watching Wood, ogres and trolls, and even their own Gaa’aram cousins. Despite the bloody history, the ‘Aashta earned the respect of their neighbors, and over the last few centuries the ‘Aashta began to work with the people of what is now Droaam. The ‘Aashta thrive on conflict and the thrill of battle; they have always been the most enthusiastic bounty hunters, and during the Last War it was the ‘Aashta who devised the idea of the Dragonne’s Roar—brokering the service of monstrous mercenaries in the Five Nations, as well as the services of the ‘Aashta themselves.

The ‘Aashta are devoted to what they call the “Old Ways”—what scholars might identify as Cults of the Dragon Below. The two primary traditions within the ‘Aashta are the Inner Sun and the Whisperers, both of which are described in Exploring Eberron. Those who follow the Inner Sun seek to buy passage to a promised paradise with the blood of worthy enemies. The Whisperers are tied to the daelkyr Kyrzin; they’re best known for cultivating gibbering mouthers, but they have other traditions tied to the Bile Lord. The key point is that while the ‘Aashta are often technically cultists of the Dragon Below, they aren’t typically trying to free a daelkyr or an overlord. The ‘Aashta Inner Sun cultist is on a quest to find worthy enemies, to buy their own passage to paradise; they aren’t looking to collapse the world into chaos or anything like that. The Gatekeepers despise the cults for trafficking with malefic forces, and believe that they may be unwitting tools of evil, and it’s these beliefs that usually spark clashes between the two (combined with the fact that Gatekeeper champions are certainly ‘worthy foes’ in the eyes of the Inner Sun). But it’s important to recognize that these two paths have co-existed for thousands of years. That co-existence hasn’t always been peaceful, but they’ve never engaged in a total war. Since the union of Tharashk, both ‘Aashta and Torrn have done their best to work together, with Velderan helping to mediate between the two (… and with the Veldokaa occasionally stirring up the conflict).

The ‘Aashta are fierce and aggressive. They respect strength and courage, and take joy in competition. Having invested in the Tharashk union, they want to see the House rise to glory. It’s the ‘Aashta who pushed to create the Dragonne’s Roar despite the clear conflict with House Deneith. The ‘Aashta also recognize the power Tharashk has as the primary supplier of dragonshards, and wish to see how the house can use this influence. In contrast to the Veldokaa, the ‘Aashta are honest in their ambition and wish to see the house triumph as a whole. While they do produce a few inquisitives, their greatest love is bounty hunting, and most Tharashk hunters come from ‘Aashta or one of its allied clans.

While they aren’t as dedicated to innovation as Velderan and aren’t as invested in symbionts as the dwarf clans of Narathun or Soldorak in the Mror Holds, the ‘Aashta are always searching for new weapons and don’t care if a tool frightens others. Some of those who follow the Old Ways master the techniques of the warlock, while the Whisperers employ strange molds and symbionts tied to Kyrzin and produce gifted alchemists.

‘Aashta Characters. The ‘Aashta are extremely aggressive. While there are disciplined fighters among them—often working with the Dragonne’s Roar to train and lead mercenary troops—the ‘Aashta are also known for cunning rangers and fierce barbarians. Their devotion to the Old Ways can produce warlocks or sorcerers, and especially gifted Whisperers can become Alchemist artificers. Culturally, the ‘Aashta are the most ruthless of the clans and this can lead to characters with evil alignments, though this is driven more by a lack of mercy than by wanton cruelty; like followers of the Mockery, an ‘Aashta will do whatever it takes to achieve victory. Due to its proximity to Droaam, the people of Patrahk’n speak traditional Goblin rather than Azhani, as well as learning Common as a trade language; however, ‘Aashta from the west may prefer Azhani.

Triumvir. Khandar’aashta is bold and charismatic. He is extremely ambitious and is constantly pushing his fellow Triumvirs, seeking to expand the power of Tharashk even if it strains their relations with the rest of the Twelve. Khandar is a follower of the Old Ways; it’s up to the DM to decide if he’s a Whisperer, pursuing the Inner Sun, or if he’s tied to a different and more sinister tradition. While he is ruthless when it comes to expanding the power of the house, he does believe in the union and wants to see all the clans prosper.

Lesser Clans. Overall, the ‘Aashta have no great love of subterfuge. When they need such schemes, they turn to the ‘Arrna, a lesser clan who produces more rogues than rangers. While they are just as aggressive as the ‘Aashta, the ‘Aarna love intrigues and fighting with words as well as blades. The Istaaran are devoted Whisperers and skilled alchemists; they have a great love of poisons and have helped to produce nonlethal toxins to help bounty hunters bring down their prey. The ‘Oorac are a small clan known for producing aberrant dragonmarks and sorcerers; before the union they were often persecuted, but ‘Aashta shields them.

That’s all for now. I’m pressed for time and likely won’t be able to answer questions on this topic. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in shaping the topic of the NEXT article, there’s just four hours left (as of this posting) in the Patreon poll to choose it; at the moment it’s neck and neck between an exploration of Sky Piracy in Khorvaire and my suggestions for drawing players into the world and developing interesting Eberron characters in Session Zero. In addition, tomorrow I’ll be posting the challenge that will determine which Threshold patrons play in my next online adventure. If you want to be a part of any of that, check out my Patreon!

32 thoughts on “Dragonmark: The Families of House Tharashk

  1. While Q’barra didn’t quite make the cut for the article, I loved this intro fiction for the Q’barra articles from 4e in establishing the mercantile nature of the Velderans

    > Honorable lords and ladies, if you love your nation I urge you to heed my words. The scales pose an untenable threat to the operations of my house. Without the steady revenues my family brings to the crown, this little country of yours will wither and die. The facts speak for themselves. Attacks by the scales have increased tenfold in the last year. The Poison Dusk tribe accounts for the majority of these raids, but the documents before you hold proof of strikes by the Shining Claws and the Lingering Light. By now I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors of the armies massing at Ka’rhashan. I know some among you believe we can live in harmony with these creatures. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. The Cold Sun Federation is not our ally. Its members are scales, and at the end of the day we’ll always be softskins to them. We’ll always be the outsiders and invaders, and in the wake of the Mourning they see us as weak and vulnerable. Trust them too far and you will eventually wake up in a pool of your own blood.

    Nobles of Newthrone. Lords of Q’barra. I don’t ask you to risk your own people in the battle that lies ahead. All I ask is that you untie my hands and let me assemble the troops I need to cleanse this land once and for all. Let me drive the scales into the ocean and give you the security you have always craved.

    – Khalar Velderan d’Tharashk, addressing the Lords of Newthrone

    • Always pictured him as a character out of an Ayn Rand novel. You could copy one of the famed speeches from her characters. I mean if we are going for amoral capitalist, nothing better than that.

  2. Wild Beyond the Witchlight introduces an NPC named Majera d’Valzey (human noble). The community speculates that it’s easiest to reconcile this as ir’Valzey instead, but do you think Valzey could be a minor family within one of the Tharashk branches?

    • > Majera d’Valzey (neutral, female, human noble) from the world of Eberron, has a magic quill named Dictado. The quill scrawls out anything Majera says, and her place at the table is piled with sheets of parchment. Majera is hoping to break the terms of an arranged marriage.

      Relevant passage. Honestly having the ir’ instead DOES seem like the simpler translation.

      • Without further context on the character it’s hard to say. ir’Valzey is certainly the simplest solution, especially if the character isn’t described as having a dragonmark. But sure, it COULD be a Tharashk family, probably Velderan.

  3. Absolutely love all of this, Keith! Anything that presents the Houses as less monolithic is always a good thing. I’ve also always wrinkled my nose at the Mark of Finding spanning two races, so the nudge towards any ‘human’ heirs having more distant orc heritage is a take I quite like. Thanks for the post!

    • Per Rising From The Last War, “Goblin was the trade language of the goblin empire of Dhakaan and survives as the primary language in Darguun, Droaam, and the Shadow Marches. Goblin displaced the Orc language; the people of the Shadow Marches typically speak Goblin, and Orc is an exotic language.” I’d probably allow an Azhani speaker to have a basic conversation with someone who only speaks Orc, since the two are related. Essentially, it’s an extension of the idea of Common, saying that Goblin was the common tongue of pre-human Khorvaire.

      • In my Eberron, I actually prefer to keep the Orcish language alive.

        It helps reinforce them as an ancient and distinct people from the goblinoids, and plays into the idea of the Shadow Marches as an ‘exotic’ location for people from the Five Nations, a place with ‘secret mysterious ancestral wisdom’. (Unless you speak Orcish, in which case it is just regular ancestral wisdom).

        I got the impression that the Orcs of the Shadow Marches were an isolated people, even during the Age of Monsters. I thought that the goblinoid states and the Dhakaani empire drove the orcs out from central Khorvaire and kept them restricted to their current marginal areas.

        My interpretation was that The Dhakaani empire was mostly goblinoids ruling goblinoids rather than goblinoids ruling conquered peoples, which they disdained as ‘uncivilized barbarians’ and dismissed as being unable to ever fully integrate into the empire (lacking a proper innate understanding of muut/the eusocial bond). As such, contact between the goblins and orcs was limited and mostly unfriendly-neutral, with trade and other exchanges being uncommon.

        This situation would allow the orcs to readily maintain their own identity, culture, and language, since there was little pressure for the widespread adoption of a ‘common tongue’ with the goblinoids.

        • It’s largely a question of realism versus the actual impact on gameplay. In my campaign, I don’t want languages to get in the way of the story; I don’t particular want a session in which players can’t talk to an NPC because no one bothered to take Orc as a language, and I don’t want the Tharashk player who knows Orc to be frustrated that they never meet anyone else who speaks it. Thus, I’ve focused on the existence of multiple common tongues—Goblin as the Common of pre-human Khorvaire, Common as the common tongue of human Khorvaire, Giant as the common tongue of Xen’drik; with those three languages, odds are good you can have some common ground. In the case of the Marches, I’ve suggested Azhani as a hybrid of Goblin and Orc, which means that someone who speaks Goblin can COMMUNICATE with an Azhani speaker, even if they’re going to miss nuance. Meanwhile, in keeping true Orc as an exotic language, it becomes a tool of story—when you find the ancient inscription in Orc, it’s likely that no one speaks it and you’ll either have to use magic or copy it and find a sage to translate it for you.

          Part of the idea of Goblin isn’t just that it was the language of the Empire; the Empire fell thousands of years ago. It’s the language that got widespread enough that different species and cultures started using it to communicate with one another—that harpies and gnolls and orcs found that the easiest way to communicate with one another was through Goblin. So again, here I suggest that the more isolated western Marchers speak Azhani—reflecting their isolated culture and preserving some of the roots of the Orc language—while those of the east primarily speak Goblin, because of regular interactions with the denizens of what is now Droaam. The Marches had very little contact with HUMANITY, but they still dealt with the worgs of the Watching Woods, with Znir gnolls and Gaa’aram raiders. But even with Azhani, there’s enough Goblin in it that a player who knows Goblin can still communicate with an Azhanai speaker and an Azhani speaker can talk to people in Droaam—rather than having an orc player character learn a language that is essentially useless as soon as they leave the Marches.

          But ultimately comes down to the impact languages have at your table. I tend to downplay language as an obstacle, so I lean toward more common tongues. If you want to emphasize linguistic division as something adventurers have to deal with, it definitely makes sense to have Orc as an active language.

  4. Exploring Eberron says that the Inner Sun cult is tied to Katashka. (That seems a little odd to me, since the cult looks closer to Rak Tulkhesh.) Does this mean that Katashka, in some way, has influence over the unwitting ‘Aashta? Or do the ‘Aashta practice a version of the Inner Sun cult that gives Katashka no influence over them?

    • The Inner Sun is only loosely connected to Katashka. The nature of that link is that the way to the Inner Sun is blocked by the Gatekeeper, and you buy your passage with the souls of worthy foes. This is why it’s Katashka instead of Rak Tulkhesh; quality matters more than quantity, while the Rage of War would be more likely to encourage indiscriminate slaughter. An outsider could also make the case that it’s actually a Keeper cult, since the Keeper also has a penchant for collecting souls; this is one of those places where the line between Katashka and the Keeper is somewhat thin.

      Essentially, the attribution to Katashka is more academic than anything else, because the cultists see the Gatekeeper as an obstacle to be overcome, not a figure they revere. But they dedicate acts of murder to the Gatekeeper, so, kind of a Katashka cult. In terms of the degree to which they are influenced by Katashka, that influence primarily shows up in the fact that they see nothing wrong with the idea of buying a path to paradise with blood and souls.

  5. I remember listening to the podcast episode where you decided you’d make the switch to any character with the Mark of Finding having orc blood. It’s never quite sat well with me, but I’ve got a friend who loves it. It’s become one of a number of fun little points of contention in our dueling setting lores.

  6. In your 4e Dungeon #191 article on Zarash’ak, you mention that “each of the Tharashk triumvirs has a medusa bodyguard.” Is this still true?

    • Certainly. While ‘Aashta is the driving force behind the Dragonne’s Roar, it’s become an important part of the house and the Triumvirs are happy to take advantage of it.

  7. The 4e and 5e setting guides spell the leader of the ‘aashta clan “Khandar”, but the original 3.5 Dragonmarked uses “Khundar”. Which of these twin brothers is the good one and which is the evil goatee-wearing one?

    • Hmm, I missed that 5E stuck with Khandar and decided to stay with Dragonmarked over the ECG. But I actually prefer Khandar, and given that it’s the latest canon I’ll switch to that.

  8. What sort of mining methods would Torrn have in your eberron? A version of Fire-setting using conjured flames. Or a Nitroglycerin like blast disk?

    • I’d need to study real-world mining before I could give an answer, and it’s not really on the topic of “family,” so I’m not going to deal with it here. But keep in mind that given their primal background, they have options beyond “Blow Stuff Up.” Move Earth in its PC form is too high level for everyday magic, but Tharashk could create tools that work on similar principles, or even work with some form of summoned earth elemental.

    • From the ECS: “Eberron dragonshards are buried in the shallow soil of the world and are usually found encased in geodelike stone eggs.”

      Because of this, I have always had Eberron shard “mining” in the Marches be conducted by wading in marshy shard beds barefoot and probing the mud with the feet. Once detected, they are then levered up using long poles, rolled into a net, and dragged to solid ground or lifted into a boat.

      In less marshy areas I imagine is would be more of a strip mining operation, but not going too deep into the earth. Possibly with large scale removal of earth and screening for geodes, if you could get heavy equipment (eg. modified warforged titans) into the site.

      I suppose if you wanted it to be more of a disturbance to the environment (for story purposes), in swampy areas you could drain the swamp and then strip mine, thereby destroying a whole lot of habitat.

  9. So is Khalar Velderan at Dragons Maw in Qbarra the black sheep of the family? Given their general altruistic nature and how seemingly ruthless Khalar has been with dealing with the “scales” I wonder if the family are aware of his actions there. I know they are keeping a lot of their mining hidden due to being a violation of the treaty but this makes me really think he might be hiding these actions from not just the Qbarrans but the greater Velderan family as well.

    • The generally altruistic nature of Clan Velderan is a broad concept; as I note in the article, “If you want to play an evil orc barbarian from Clan Velderan, go ahead.” The Eberron Campaign Guide calls out Daric as “…the gentlest of the triumvirs… (who) would like to see the house become a positive force in the war-torn world” but the houses are still first and foremost monopolistic business, and that’s basically the point of the Veldokaa. Of the three families, Velderan has a surprising number of young optimists who would like to make the world a better place, but there’s still an iron core of old pragmatists who are determined to make sure the clan prospers, regardless of the cost. I’d say that Khalar may well be hiding some of his actions from Daric, but that he has the support of the Veldokaa.

      It’s worth noting that the ECG specifically says he’d “like to see the house become” a positive force—which implies that it isn’t that way at the moment. I may adjust the article to make that note—that Daric essentially represents a progressive movement within the house that’s at odds with the old guard of the Veldokaa.

      • This is great information thanks. Sounds like he would still have support from the old guard but exposing his operation could lead to some tension in the house. Since it involves mining I think I’m going to have the mining operation previously being helmed by Clan Torrn. Then when the treaty went into place to prevent the mining in Lizardfolk territories Clan Torrn largely got what they could ethically then withdrew and at some point Khalar saw the opportunity and took over the remnants, stripping everything they could from the land and leading to the brutal methods they use now.

  10. Who was encountering these Veldaren sailors and fisherfolk that the reports came back to Sivis? Was the presence of humans in the Shadow Marches known historically or was the investigation led to find out what they were doing there?

  11. I now have an idea of an Velderan associated lesser clan that seeks to use Gatekeeper primal magic in combination of Old Ways magic to integrate abberations into nature.
    The syncretictism of such opposing philosphies is interesting to me and Velderan has traits of curiousity and ambition so I figure they would jump on a way to get the other clans work together more.

  12. Interesting article, I think it gives more information than what is presented in [i]Dragonmarked[/i]. Of course my campaigns always happens in the five nations, and not in the Shadow Marches. Though what you said about the Shadow Marches always gives me pause.

    I wonder if there are orc supremacists in Eberron.

    • Well if there were they’re likely Jhorash’tar in the Mror Holds. The other groups of orcs (ghaash’kala, marcher tribes) rely too heavily on their blended cultures

  13. Why is it that only Half-Orcs manifest the Mark of Finding as oppose to full blooded Orcs. You’ve said before that the Jhorgun’taal arent restricted to being part Human, but can all Jhorgun’taal manifest the mark, or just half human. The implications here imply rather than needing to be a halfling or a gnome, you need to be PART Orc.

    Also is the Orcs primal nature the reason why the Mark of Finding has so many plant themed spells?

    • Could be similar to the Khorovar manifesting the marks of storm and detection but not full blood elves. The unique racial mix combined with families/clans that were already doing the finding jobs and suddenly the mark manifests.

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