Favorite Cities in Eberron?

I’ve spent the last six weeks traveling the US in a van to demo my card game Illimat, and that’s meant that I haven’t had much time for writing. I have three big articles I’m working on for the website, but they’re complicated topics and need more time. But rather than leave you all hanging, I wanted to pull out an easy question from the ones submitted by my Patreon supporters… and while I’m at it, thanks to everyone who has chosen to support me and this site! Now on to the question:

If you had the chance to to another Eberrron city book on the scale of Sharn or Stormreach, which city would be your first pick and why?

My first choice would definitely be Graywall. This is the second largest city in Droaam, lying directly on the border between Droaam and Breland. Why Graywall? Here’s a few reasons…

  • Like Stormreach, Graywall is a frontier — a gateway to a world the people of the Five Nations know little about.
  • Droaam is a nation of monsters. Humans are in the minority here, and that creates a lot of potential for interesting stories that don’t work in many other places. It’s a chance for player characters to interact with “monsters” as something other than enemies – to deal with medusas, harpies and werewolves in ways they wouldn’t anywhere else.
  • It’s a city filled with intrigue and opportunities. Droaam has only been a nation for a decade. Many of the warlords have their own agendas, and there are those who which to bring down warlords to take their places. Beyond this you have the mysterious schemes of the Daughters of Sora Kell. As it’s not bound by the laws of Thronehold, you have opportunities for war criminals, outlaws, or wizards engaging in arcane research forbidden in other places. Beyond this, it’s built atop ancient Dhakaani ruins… yet one more thing to explore.
  • Beyond the city itself, such a sourcebook would be an opportunity to explore the many cultures of Droaam in more depth. Droaam is a tapestry woven from many distinct and very different cultures: the doppelgangers of Lost, the tieflings of the Venomous Demesne, the lycanthropes of the Dark Pack, the gnolls of the Znir Pact, etc, etc. I’d love to be able to delve into each of these more deeply, creating hooks that are equally useful for DMs building stories and players who want to play a member of that culture.

Graywall is a chance to take something very different and distinctly part of Eberron and to tell stories that you couldn’t tell in any city in the Five Nations.

So: that’s my first choice. But there’s lots of other possibilities.

  • Thaliost. This Aundairian city was seized by Thrane during the Last War. The Last War never really ended in Thaliost, and it’s a great place to explore the lingering tensions and ongoing intrigues between these two nations.
  • Atur. The City of Night is the heart of the Blood of Vol in Karrnath and the center of their necromantic research. It grew in power and influence along with the Blood of Vol, but now that Kaius has abandoned the faith it is a city in crisis – an a place filled with opportunity, adventure, and a chance to consider how necromancy could be integrated into society.
  • Rukhaan Draal. The capital city of Darguun intrigues me for many of the same reasons as Graywall — an opportunity to explore adventures in the city of those usually considered monsters in other settings. It’s also an opportunity to dig deeper into the customs of both the Ghaal’dar and Dhakaani goblins.

Taer Valaestas in Valenar. Pylas Talaer in Aerenal. Almost any city in the Lhazaar Principalities… like most of those described above, it’s the chance both to flesh out a city as a hub for adventure, but also to delve deeper into the cultures that shape it.

To be clear: This isn’t necessarily one of the first sourcebooks I’d make if I had the power to do so. I’d rather write a sourcebook on Darguun than specifically one on Rukhaan Draal, and I’d pick a Droaam sourcebook over a Graywall sourcebook — because there’s so much to delve into about those entire regions. And I might write a book on the Planes before that. This is a thought experiment — if someone appeared tomorrow and said “You can write an Eberron book, but it has to be a city sourcebook” what would I want it to be?

Anyhow, that’s all I have time for today. What cities would you like to see developed in more depth?

33 thoughts on “Favorite Cities in Eberron?

  1. Hi Keith. Loving the posts….
    Actually it’d be nice to also have some key forts/villages/ small towns developed with npcs…. manageable urban centres/ sites of interest which exemplify issues/ themes in Eberron bringing the setting to life in microcosm. Just a thought.

    • This.

      I’d love some of the smaller towns developed.

      Also the oddball locales, like the cities of Reidra, and the monasteries of Adar, etc.

  2. Not that I’d ever complain of a new City book. Sharn and Stormreach rock…. so any such treatment of a different city would be awesome!

  3. Thaliost would probably get my vote. I see Eberron as three settings in one; pulp adventure, detective noir, and politicsl intrigue, and with Stormreach and Sharn scratching the first two itches Thaliost naturally fits the third. Not that I would mind Graywall, especially if it had a deep dive on the Znir Pact.

    • I’ve been thinking of expanding on Thailost as part of some of my own work on Eberron.

  4. Ashtakala. I think that a sourcebook based in this city would be a perfect opportunity to learn more about the “culture” of the Lords of Dust, the majesty and ruin of demons in Eberron in general and I love the sort of infernal R’lyeh-feel I imagine it would have with its “not-of-this-world-and-time” qualities. I’m not a big fan of high-level adventures, but I feel that Ashtakala would be a magnificent place for powerful characters to explore.

    Newthrone. Because it offers a unique opportunity to explore the frontier feel of New Cyre, the dragonborn race and the jungle infested with darkness. Basically, If I would try to set up an Apocalypse Now adventure, I would put it in Q’barra (or Xen’drik, but we already have Secrets of Xen’drik and Stormreach).

    Any of the great cities of Zilargo (or perhaps all three of them). I think that the potential of gnomish politics and espionage is criminally underused and underexplored (as are gnomes in Eberron in general), and an appropriate sourcebook should give us enough material to develop convoluted cloak-and-dagger adventures that are so characteristic of the Zil.

    Eladrin feyspires (all of them). Magical cities that range from an everwinter fortress to a city of joy to a nightmare citadel? Sign me up. Bonus – we would learn so much more about the eladrin and history of Eberron in general.

    These go after Atur, Rukhaan Draal, Taer Valaestas, Pylas Talaer and Lhazaar Principalities as a whole 😀

    • All excellent choices. But this comes back to the point that the first thing I’d write – when I can write new official Eberron material – wouldn’t be a sourcebook on ONE city. I’d rather do an “Exotic Locales” sourcebook that incorporates, all of the Feyspires, Ashakala, Metrol and more than a Sharn-sized sourcebook on just one of them.

  5. A droaam/graywall sourcebook would be awesome, especially given how much greyhawk/faerun needs to be stripped out of monstrous races as described in the MM just to exist in droaam without being quickly executed for causing problems by one or more of the powers that be.

    I’m running a 5e campaign set in western droaam right now & kicked things off with an extremely modified LMoP with phandilvar a old mostly orc village with a bunch of cyran refugees farming around it. The d&d newbies are having a blast & really enjoying exploring a culture that’s different on such fundamental levels while still being logical enough to make sense. More importantly than the newbies having a blast, it seems that every session or two I throw one or more of the grognards for a loop in wonderful ways everyone has fun with.

    The best loop so far was introducing the miners exchange & a reskinned medusa i dubbed shelka replacing fredaby way of telling the most experienced grognard had gone out to find a player who missed the previous session that he notices “this” sitting on the steps of that shop across the street eating something while I set a basilisk model down on the mat. The “w..wait is that a stand in for something else?.. cause I know what that is”> “and for a dc5 lore check your character can too”. There he was him at level 2 or 3 & a new-to-d&d barbarian gnoll at 2-3 (the rest of the group had previously opted to stay at the gold dragon inn/tavern)trying to warn the player in character without causing a scene or making things worse than it already looked.

    Grognard & even the gnoll were already more than a bit on edge when I confirmed that the “something” was indeed a stone hand. Having the shopkeeper/medusa come out to tell them that he was just a baby & not to worry because he couldn’t turn anyone to stone yet but was still learning to control his powers so would just kinda stun you a little at worst & that the hand was from a burglar that his mommy zeke caught the other day all while she’s treating a “little” basalisk like an excited puppydog. Newbie decided his character was weaving hats tomake money & tries to give one to the shopkeeper who repeatedly tried to refuse on account of not really being a hat person “it’s ok man, don’t anger the nice medusa” uttered in nervousness just shy of screaming panic is a line I’ll never forget.

    Eventually she tied a hat to the basalisk like people dress up their dogs & played with him some while the players were half returning half fleeing to the inn where the grognard later told a story about how they met the nicest medusa with the cutest friendliest basalisk you could ever imagine but beware of zeke & don’t
    break into the miners exchange.

  6. I’d go for Thronehold. It’s the old capital of Galifar, but now neutral ground. Or rather, shared ground, being divided between the four surviving nations. That’s gotta be a recipe for some pretty cool intrigue. It’s also really close to the Mournland, which is both a threat (monsters!) and an opportunity (treasure!).

    If we’re playing with the thought of a new city book, I’d rather see one that could support a whole campaign, the way Sharn and Stormreach does. I don’t think Ashtakala or Greywall do that – they seem more like adventuring sites than places where you live. Though Greywall would be great as a chapter in a book about Droaam, it kind of needs that context before getting its own book (much like Stormreach needs some Xen’drik material).

    • Though Greywall would be great as a chapter in a book about Droaam, it kind of needs that context before getting its own book…

      I agree! I definitely think that a Droaam or Darguun sourcebook makes more sense than diving right into a Rukhaan Draal or Graywall book. But this was an answer to a purely hypothetical question – if the question was “What SOURCEBOOK would you write first if you could write whatever Eberron material you want” I’d have given a different answer.

  7. Rukhaan Drall would be my pick, karrn/atur the second, greywall the third. I even was thinking to the capital of Q’barra, but maybe it’s too little to justify a whole book.
    I would immediately buy a book on Ashtakala, but as Staffan says, I doubt it could be a “city book”, a city in which adventurers could live

  8. Korth. It has enough intrigue with vampires and their minions that in my opinion it has enough that it can rival anything Ravenloft ever put out that it possibly can give it a run for its money. From the drama in the courts to the commoners in the fields it has tons of material to work with a sourebook couldnt fill all.

  9. Zarash’ak, For many of the same reasons as Greywall really. the difference between the Clan and Tribe Orcs makes for great tension, the different culture of the dwellers within the web as opposed to the members of House Tharashk.
    We’d also get a look at the Gatekeepers and the Cult’s of the Dragon Below.

    Second pick (well second pick is actually Rhukan Draal but second pick of those that haven’t been mentioned) is Fairhaven. Magic works into ever facet of the 5 kingdoms, Aundaire is arguable the kingdom that leverages that tat most. How is Fairhaven different to Sharn (shorter certainly but what else), what magic is cheaper, how are newly invented spells / items integrated into the city. I see Fairhaven as a city on the cutting edge of Magic Technology and I’d love to see how that integrates. Beyond that getting more insight into the political workings of a monarchy that WANTS to restart the last war as well as more information about House Cannith would be great.

  10. I agree with the above poster that I would want a new city book to focus on a location with lots of political intrigue. Thaliost or Thronehold/Throneport would be nice, but I think I would most like to see Stormhome. Fantasy Monoco as a setting for intrigue is just going to be more fun for more players than fantasy postwar Berlin or fantasy Nagorno-Karbach, I think. I think Thaliost would better serve as an adventure module locale since so much there is focused on the nature of the occupation. Just my two cents.

  11. In my main campaign of Belluae, the party’s base of operations is a manorhouse in Little Graywall called Kellkroft. I would love to see things expounded upon, street gangs like touched upon in Stormreach, or even how the medusa barristers operate.

    Beyond bending the knee to the Daughters, what are some laws that Are enforced in Graywall?

    I would love to see information about one of the underwater cities of the aquatic races, a place untouched by other source material.

    • I know there is a reference in a few places about buying & displaying the travel banner of the month from the DoSK if you are going to be traveling to avoid risk of being attacked & enslaved (darguun too but there’s additional stuff about scrutiny & needing to justify it).

      I’m honestly curious now that you mention it

  12. Thanks for answering that little question, Keith. Greywall was not the answer I was expecting, but makes perfect sense. Hmm…since the Treaty of Thronehold doesn’t apply to Droaam, I wonder if there are any frustrated Cannith artificers trying to set up a creation forge there?

    Between all the possible Eberron books, Phoenix, Illimat, Gloom, and things hiterto undreamed of by mere fans…we need to get that Keith Baker cloning program up and running. I think 13 of you would be an appropriate number.

  13. Honestly, I’d love a “Frontiers of Eberron” (you can use that as the title). Droaam, Darguun, the Lhazaar Principalities, the Shadow Marches, Talenta Plains/Valenar, all the great places in Eberron that the Five Nations sourcebook couldn’t cover. They all need some love.

    • Personally, I’d rather do a “Frontiers of Eberron” book before doing a full city sourcebook on any city; I’d rather give people more depth on a wider range of areas that digging super-deep into just one.

  14. Fairhaven, in large part because the treatments of it in PDF Dungeon and Five Nations have had obviously missing content (like information about the University of Wynarn that was referenced in Five Nations but not actually included) or clear off notes (like the Dungeon treatment’s bizarre and unexplained openness among the Inspired and kalashtar there; I could buy that the GOVERNMENT is in on there being a struggle to take sides on since governments do have intelligence branches and that makes an interesting story seed, but not there being a big prominent temple to the Path of Light). Not to mention that as one of your old Q&As showed, not everyone’s sure what’s fun about Aundair, and Fairhaven would be a fine vehicle for getting across ideas you shared in that post. A Fairhaven book would be good for explaining the difference between the Pure Flame and mainstream Silver Flame faith as well, given that it was once right in the middle of the Lycanthropic Purge… and people seem to jump straight to “genocide bad, therefore all Silver Flame evil pretending to be good” too easily.

    What tends to bug me more is little details left unexplained in the broader sketches, though. Starilaskur in particular has almost no canon about it, not even an explanation of why a supposedly industrial city is so far from any mines (though I tend to imagine that it’s situated on a large Fernian manifest zone that makes fires burn longer on the same amount of fuel, as far as that goes). Meanwhile, Hatheril is a crossroads, yet instead of being a trading hub it’s apparently some hole-in-the-wall village; why? Was it attacked frequently in the Last War and is now a shadow of its former self, perhaps? If so there’s no explicit canon indication of this that I remember.

    • Fairhaven is an interesting choice. And needless to say, I wasn’t involved in either the Dungeon or Five Nations treatments of it, so I’d probably take a different approach.

  15. I concur with Greywall and Thronehold.

    I think it’s curious about the absence of capitols. Korth, Flamekeep, Wroat or Fairhaven, in the order I’d be interested.

    A sourcebook on Metrol would be great too. Half about the city before the Mourning and the other after.

    I’d love a Frontiers of Eberron book, or something about the smaller centers, Passage, Varna, Gatherhold.

  16. A little curiosity, Keith: how much of time did you need for writing Sharn: city of towers or you think you would need for a complete book on Greywall?

    • Realistically, around a month of solid work. Maybe longer if there’s significant mechanical elements (monsters, feats, stats for playing monstrous races). That’s assuming a sourcebook of around 80,000 words.

  17. I really like Graywall, and the concept of Droaam as well, as “Backdrop: Graywall” was one of my first Eberron readings when I was starting as a DM (and I didn’t even knew what Eberron was!). It influenced my own world-building style (cities of monsters are not uncommon in my homebrew world).

    In a perfect world where Keith Baker can still write Eberron worlds, I would have bought a book about Graywall/Droaam/the Frontiers of Eberron without a doubt!

  18. Nearly 30 replies, and I can’t help but notice that no-one mentioned anything about Aerenal, beside your passing mention of Pylas Talaer. I’m going off-track here, but is there a reason that in the entirety of canon sources, this continent was never developed beyond a handful of pages?…

    In my Eberron (according to the traditional expression around here), I confess that I prefer to downsize the “tropical jungle” aspect of the place. Instead, I would make it a kind of perpetual summery insular version of Lothlórien, home of “classical” heroic fantasy high-elves à la Tolkien (as opposed to the more “Victorian fantasy” orientation for modern Khorvaire). I also extrapolated from the canonical data that Shae Mordai is the only city there built from stone instead of wood, and decided that all the architecture designed *for the living* uses magical varieties of wood, whereas the use of stone indicates a relation with the dead (from omnipresent steles and memorials to the homes of Deathless). –Therefore, an elf newly arriving in Khorvaire would probably be puzzled by the massive use of stone in construction, coupled with what she would probably sense as a general disregard for the dead and the ancestors, at least compared to Aereni practices.– All this would probably crumble down if an Aerenal sourcebook was ever to be published… but still, I can’t help to wonder why there wasn’t, when both Argonessen and Sarlona got one, and Xen’drik two.

    On a more general note, I love both the “Frontiers of Eberron” and “Exotic Locales” pitches. Hope we’ll see that one day.

    • I’m going off-track here, but is there a reason that in the entirety of canon sources, this continent was never developed beyond a handful of pages?

      Same reason there’s so little on Lhazaar, or Zilargo, or for that matter the Demon Wastes: just not enough pages. I’m posting polls on my Patreon where the inner circle can vote for topics for future posts; I included Aerenal on that list, but in the first poll there was more interest in the planes (and I have an article I’ve been working on dealing with the planes). But I’d love to see more about Aerenal in the future.

  19. I’m a bit late to the comments on this one, but what the heck.

    Our current campaign started off in the Great Crag in Droaam with a non-human party and it’s been a really interesting place to play with. The way we did it was as a well-ordered city divided into two parts. The Lower City contains city watch buildings (manned by hobgoblins), temples (mainly to the Shadow and the Mockery), inns, houses, marketplaces, farms and vineyards. We also had a riverside dock with warehouses in the Lower City.

    In the Upper City, through a set of gates is the Daughters’ court, built into the side of the mountains, barracks for their army and the arena mentioned in the sourcebooks. The daughters themselves are almost never seen but their presence felt everywhere. They’re mentioned in hushed tones if at all. We had them communicating with the city watch in the Lower City and agents further afield via crows, which of course makes any birds seen by the party instantly terrifying. We also added some goblin-run copper mines in the side of the mountains, accessible via the Lower City, and a number of ruined stone circles, burial mounds and ancient barrows in the surrounding countryside (all potentially haunted, of course).

    We really enjoyed playing around in the Great Crag, even if we had to keep our wits about us and watch our backs!

  20. Current campaign is going to range all over Khorvaire chasing stanzas of the Draconic Prophecy, but it began with trip to Cazhaak Draal. Players have really loved exploring the whole place. In Graywall they needed a banner of safe conduct which meant a terrifying meeting with the governor of that city, after earning an audience by impressing his minotaur aide by winning a game of Six Stones. They’ve tangled with flight of harpies in an icy canyon in a manifest zone to Risia, and settled a dispute between the Znir gnolls and Queen Sheshka, the whole time unaware they’re being manipulated by agents of both the Lords of Dust and the Chamber. Good times.

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