As time permits, I like to address the INfrequently asked questions of Eberron—interesting questions posed by my Patreon supporters. Here’s a few you may not have heard before! As always, these are MY opinions and may contradict canon sources.
How would a trading/collectible card game (like Pokémon TCG, Magic the Gathering) manifest in Khorvaire? What Dragonmarked house (or other) would develop and manufacture these games?
Why make a TCG when you could make actual Pokemon? A Bag of Tricks is an uncommon magic item that lets you summon a random beast from a specific list. I could easily see the Twelve—specifically Vadalis, Orien, and Cannith—working together to produce a variant Bag of Tricks. Rather than summoning a beast with a random roll on a table, it starts containing only one special Vadalis-bred beast and you expand your list by finding and collecting other monsters. Aside from that limitation/advantage, it would work exactly like a Bag of Tricks—it’s an action to summon a beast, you can use it three times a day, beast disappears when reduced to 0 HP. Perhaps, with work, you can evolve your creatures into more powerful forms. BAGMON, it’s the new big thing!
When I initially answered this question, I’d forgotten that my Manifest Zone co-host Imogen Gingell has in fact already created a host of Eberron-themed Pokemon that you could use with as Bagmon creatures. Her Five Nations set is pictured above, but you can find more here! In addition, she’s actually developed a full bestiary with stats for these creatures, which is available on the DM’s guild. She ties them to Thelanis rather than my Cannith/Vadalis Bagmon idea, but the creatures can work with any of these ideas.
If I was going to make a card game like Magic, I’d want it to still be magical—to have the cards produce Prestidigitation-level sounds and illusions as you play it. With this in mind, I could see three paths. It could be Aundairian; we’ve always called out Aundair as having the most use of casual magic. It could be created as a joint product by Sivis and Phiarlan, blending Scribing with the illusory elements of Shadow, and being both a printing thing and a form of entertainment. But I could also see it as being a Fey artifact from Thelanis—something that came to Eberron through a manifest zone and is now spreading rapidly, like a weed or a predator introduced into an environment that’s not prepared to deal with it.
Did you ever think up rules, terminology, and/or a simple general description of how the game of Conqueror is played? Is there a word to announce your victory, kinda like “checkmate”?
Conqueror was introduced in Five Nations, a book I didn’t work on. It runs into a tricky question of worldbuilding. The idea is that the Karrns are a people with a deep love of competition and strategy; the game is described as “Chesslike.” The problem with creating new rules and terms for the game is that YOUR PLAYERS WON’T KNOW THESE RULES AND TERMS. The SIMPLE approach is to say that Conqueror uses the basic rules and terms of Chess. It is less deeply satisfying because why would this alien world have a game we play—but the point is that if a villain says “Checkmate” the players understand the reference whereas if a villain says “No more conquests” you’re going to have to explain to the players “That’s a term from the game Conqueror which is used when the opponent is out of moves, sort of like saying ‘checkmate.'” Essentially, is it worth the effort involved on all sides to create an entirely new game, or is it simpler to just have the Karrnathi warlord say “Checkmate”?
With this in mind, when I had people playing Thrones a recent Threshold game, I essentially said “It’s like poker, but it uses a five-suited deck with a suit for each of the Five Nations.” While it would make more sense for it to have entirely unique rules, for SPEED OF PLAY it was easier to have it use basic Poker rules, because the players KNOW those. The five suited deck changes the odds a bit and added a unique twist (and I came up with the face cards based on notable figures from each nation), but I didn’t have to make up an entirely new game and the players could make some quick decisions based on their pre-existing knowledge of Poker.
The main thing is that if I was going to make rules for Conqueror, I’d want to go all in and MAKE A SET THE PLAYERS CAN PLAY, and play it with them a bunch of times, so they KNOW the terms when I drop them into the world. And like Thrones and Poker, I’d probably use Chess as a foundation (IE, 8×8 grid board, pieces with specific movement patterns, win by capturing an opponent’s Sovereign) rather than making something completely unique, because again, ultimately I WANT THE PLAYERS TO UNDERSTAND THE GAME. Creating an entirely unique game that only I really understand is a cool thing, but the question is whether the experience at the TABLE will be satisfying for the players or if it’s going to be more fun all around if I just said “Checkmate.”
Are there Khorvaire (or Karrnath) parallels to our chess champions?
Five Nations calls out Conqueror as the national pastime of Karrnath. With that in mind you can be certain that there are competitions and champions, and I’d expect Rekkenmark to make use of a form of Kriegsspiel. And I do expect that there are players across the Five Nations, it’s just that Karrns dominate the game. So I could definitely imagine running a Queen’s Gambit style campaign in which a young warlock is a Conqueror prodigy and they go to competitions across Khorvaire—possibly being pushed by Kaius as a peace initiative and way to bring the nations back together. But I’d be fairly likely to lean heavily on Chess terms unless I had time to create something entirely new—just as I use the foundation of Poker for Thrones in Threshold.
That’s all for now! Thanks as always to my Patreon supporters, both for asking interesting questions and making it possible for me to spend time on these articles. If you have an infrequently asked question of your own, you can ask me on Patreon!
Regarding rules for Conqueror… I took a chess variant and adapted it here: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/358106/A-Nobles-Guide-to-Conqueror
Thank you for sharing this! Very interesting.
Bag of Holding monsters from Thelanis is a lot of fun.
When I saw this respond initially I immediately thought of a beyblade equivalent in Zilargo that binds elementals into spinning tops that you can have battle.
It’s funny you presented cards as a thelanian thing because I’ve recently considered designing an Archfey called The King of Games. Playing into the idea of original Yugioh and having his followers be spirit bards who use decks as foci and it is by following specific rules of the game they cast spells (aka verbal components being announcing your spells).
For the sake of yu-gi-oh references. Would ancient elves/giants play card games that banishes the loser to mabar?
Also would you keep the bishop chess piece name the same?
Seems like something the Group of Eleven would like
I thought we had at least piece names for Conqueror…
I’m imagining Artificers creating custom dueling constructs as well.
it could be this whole big thing, magic users creating their own arena’s and stuff to increase the spectacle and strategy, bets, cheating, e.t.c.
Since the bag-mon disappear when reaching 0HP, i’m assuming they don’t die permanently unless the bag is destroyed?
i could see them being used outside of the games as scouts, explosive disposal workers, and whatever the name is for things that jump in front of important people to take hits meant for them.
I wonder how many are able to be summoned at once, and how long they can stay summoned for?
a large Bagmon to help till the fields, or carry around someone who has trouble walking?
a flying one to deliver messages and reach things from tall shelves?
one that can repeat sentences to deliver important messages and insult your enemies?
…wonder what happens if they become sapient/ensouled…..
I could see House Ghallanda involved in the distribution of Bagmon and of other games. It gives a reason for both locals and travellers to come to their properties. It also helps if travellers have a common set of rules so that they feel comfortable playing anywhere.
In a game I’m playing in, I had a PC of mine who’d lost patience with the party’s dragon patron refer to how she felt the party was being treated as “so much infantry on someone’s Conquerer board”. Which I figured was enough like ‘pawns on a chessboard’ for people to get the point.
On the topic of the idea of keeping close parallels with Earth, once while planning out an adventure in Atur, I came to the conclusion that Karrns seemed likely to have bred something like St. Bernards — but not by that name, because that would be too evocative of Earth specifically. So the plan became to refer to “Ashen Spire Rescuers”, but show a picture of a St. Bernard.