IFAQ: The Eldeen Reaches, Continued

Art by Rich Ellis and Grace Allison

There’s no shortage of questions concerning the Eldeen Reaches, and I decided to answer a few more.

Does the Eldeen Reaches have a government and ministers? Is anything like the Code of Galifar enforced? Do the shifters in the Deep Wood acknowledge this? What’s the relationship between the Eldeen Reaches and other nations?

For the past forty years, the Eldeen Reaches have officially been under the protection and guidance of Oalian, the Great Druid of the Wardens of the Wood. Long dominant in the forest, the Wardens have spread out into the plains to ensure order throughout the region. Each village has a druid counselor who provides magical assistance and spiritual guidance, and who advises the leaders of the community. Councils made up of representatives from each farming family govern each of the communities. Bands of Warden rangers patrol the forest, responding to threats as they arise.

The shifter tribes and druid sects have their own customs, but leaders are usually chosen based on age and spiritual wisdom. Concepts of law are guided by the ways of nature, and justice is usually swift and harsh.

Politically, the folk of the Eldeen Reaches largely ignore the events of the east and are ignored in return. The Wardens of the Wood have made clear to Breland and Aundair that they will defend the nation against any military threat and have no interest in further discussions regarding borders, treaties, or resource rights.

Eberron Campaign Setting

These are the basic facts as laid out in the Eberron Campaign Setting. The Reacher communities are self-governing. Druidic advisors help guide the villages, and the Wardens of the Wood act as the connective tissue, “preserving order throughout the region”. Each community sets its own rules, inspired by the sect its aligned with. The Code of Galifar is a good general model; most things considered crimes in Sharn will probably be crimes in Varna. On the other hand, a village that’s embraced the teachings of the Children of Winter may have unusual ideas as to what constitutes a proper trial. The main point is that it’s very much what we’d consider frontier justice, with the Wardens acting as sheriffs and communities largely relying on the hue and cry–on people being ready to come together to help when a crime occurs. Meanwhile, the tribes of the Deep Wood generally respect Oalian and the Wardens, but only a few have chosen to become a full part of the Reacher experiment, and most still maintain the same traditions they’ve followed for centuries, ignoring the world beyond the Wood.

Politically “the folk of the Eldeen Reaches largely ignore the events of the east and are ignored in return.” Sharn: City of Towers specifically notes that the Eldeen Reaches don’t have any sort of consulate in Sharn and Five Nations says that they’ve rebuffed diplomatic contact with Aundair. But never forget that this is an experiment. The Treaty of Thronehold is only two years old; the Reaches are still figuring out what it means to be a nation, and how to play at politics. So at the moment, they don’t do much of it; they “largely ignore the events of the east” and “have no interest in further discussions.” But depending what happens in the days and years ahead the Reachers may realize that they have to forge stronger ties to other nations, and have to get better at the game of diplomacy. If adventurers have ties to the Reaches, they could be instrumental in helping to establish or protect the first Eldeen embassies.

What exactly IS the Towering Wood? What makes it different from any other forest?

The Towering Wood hasn’t been explored in depth in canon. Canon sources say that they are preternaturally fertile and that the forces of magic permeate the wood. We’ve mentioned greatpines and “awe-inspiring” bluewood trees. Reflecting my last post, the Eberron Campaign Setting has this to say…

The deep woods of the Eldeen Reaches remain mostly as uncultivated and pure as they were when the world was young. In the Age of Monsters, when the goblinoids forged an empire across Khorvaire, the Eldeen Reaches were the domain of orcs who sought to live in harmony with the wilderness. The orcs were devastated in the war against the daelkyr. As a result of this terrible conflict, the forest was seeded with aberrations and horrid creatures formed by the sinister shapers of flesh.

In my campaign the Towering Wood is surrounded by a buffer zone—a few miles of woodland where the trees are smaller, where there are certainly predators but where you aren’t as likely to piss off a dryad or encounter horrid wolves. The people of the fields have always hunted game and harvested lumber from this region, and it’s likely grown thinner over the history of Galifar. But the people have always known that there’s a line you don’t cross. Because when you reach the Wood itself… you feel that capital letter. You can feel its age and its power. And you if you blunder into it without knowing your way… Fey. Fiends. Aberrations. Plants twisted by Avassh. Undead. Horrid animals. Feral gnolls. Lycanthropes. Until a decade ago, Sora Maenya. If you just randomly chop down a tree, you might be cutting into Old Algatar, the great interconnected Eldeen Ada who will surely lay a terrible curse upon you or send a treant to crush you. And set aside all of these supernatural threats: if you just brought in a team to start cutting down bluewoods, you’d have to deal both with the Ashbound and the Wardens of the Wood; one of the prime directives of the Wardens is to protect the Wood from the outside world. It’s entirely possible Cannith has tried harvesting in the Towering Wood in the past; it’s just never ended well.

With that said, people live in the Towering Wood. The key is that you have to understand the threats, to be able to recognize warning signs, to know the locations of manifest zones and the safe paths maintained by the Wardens of the Wood. Looking to the present day, the Eldeen farmland communities work with their druidic advisors to harvest lumber from the edge of the Towering Wood, both ensuring that their actions are sustainable and that the lumberjacks don’t blunder into a dryad’s grove or one of Avassh’s bone orchards. Anyone can hunt and harvest from the Towering Wood… it just requires care and understanding.

But is the Wood actually like? For a start, it holds trees that don’t exist in our world. Greatpines are similar to the pine trees we know, but have thicker trunks and can reach heights of over 250 feet. The awe-inspiring bluewoods are more massive than our redwoods. But as you go deeper, you can encounter something different. This is a point where I break with canon—keeping the same general idea, but shifting it slightly. The ECS describes a specific region called The Guardian Trees, where the trees “dwarf the greatest redwoods”—but this is a very specific region that only spans about 30 miles. In my campaign, I take a different approach. First, I use the term guardian tree to refer to the Eldeen Ada. Second, in my Towering Woods those immense trees aren’t limited to a tiny region; they are spread across the forest. I call them titans—primordial trees that dwarf anything in our world, potentially thousands of feet in height. These titans are infused with primal energy—there’s the possibility they are literally the first trees, so they are sustained beyond what should be possible for any mundane fauna. The article I linked is tied to my Phoenix: Dawn Command setting, in which the titans have all fallen. In the Towering Wood I’d say most of the titans are still standing, but that there are a few that have fallen. This allows for the possibility of stumptowns (as pictured above, communities in the stumps of titans) or for communities or dungeons carved into the densewood trunks of fallen titans. Unlike the ECS, I spread these throughout the wood, but they are still rare; there’s a few dozen of them in total across the entire Wood. But each one is a truly remarkable landmark, and a wellspring of primal power. Traditional magic doesn’t work on a titan, so you can’t just animate one of them. Some people believe that the titans are awakened but are simply too vast to perceive humanoids; others believe that they hold the spirits of all the druids who’ve died in the region. Either could be true. To date Avassh hasn’t corrupted a living titan… but it could certainly have infested the trunk of a fallen one.

A final important point is that the map as it stands doesn’t show any rivers or bodies of water in the Towering Wood. This is solely because the maps have low resolution. Rivers and streams flow down from the mountains and through the wood, and there are pools tied to Lamannian and Thelanian manifest zones. There’s nothing on the scale of Lake Galifar or Silver Lake, but there are certainly immense ponds and streams that can prove challenging to cross.

What do the communities of the people in the Towering Wood look like?

The people of the woods hid from the eyes of Galifar, and most prefer the solitude of the Towering Wood to the bustle of the Five Nations. Shifters and centaurs sometimes live in their own isolated tribes, but the forest folk prefer to live in small mixed communities—human, elf, and shifter living side by side. They follow the faith of one of the druid sects, but only the most exceptional… join the patrols that guard woods and plains alike.

Player’s Guide to Eberron

There are many subcultures within the Towering Wood. Each of the druidic sects has its own tradition, and there are also sects that we haven’t discussed. The shifter Moonspeakers are a very significant faction that’s received little attention, primarily because they don’t interact much with the world beyond the Wood; there’s also a unique centaur tradition (though centaurs are also found among the Wardens, Greensingers, and other sects).

So first of all, you have the basic division of nomadic versus stationary communities. Within those categories, you see considerable variation reflecting the traditions of each sect and tribe. A detailed breakdown is beyond the scope of this article, but looking to the settled communities, some primarily create structures using tanned hides—essentially, tent cities, often extending up into the trees with hides stretched between strong boughs. Some build wooden platforms in the trees, while others—”root dwellers”—prefer sod walls and burrows going into the earth. In part, this depends on the weather and the nature of local threats, whether people need to take to the trees or if they feel secure on the ground. As noted below, people definitely take advantage of the resources the Wood presents; where you have a fallen titan (the tree, not the monster), people will build homes into the stump or the trunk. Beyond Greenheart, one of the largest communities in the Wood is just known as the Crossroads; this is a stumptown that lies along the migratory paths of a number of different nomadic tribes, which serves as central marketplace where people from different communities and sects exchange goods and services.

For the most part, however, the communities of the Wood are quite small. The Woodfolk don’t practice industrialized agriculture, so a community needs to be careful not to extend past the limits of local resources, and will split when it grows too far.

There’s a few things to keep in mind when dealing with the people of the Wood. Only the most gifted among them are full-fledged druids or rangers—just as few priests in the Five Nations are actual clerics, and few of the students in Arcanix are actually wizards. However, many possess some connection to primal power. This may be reflected by the abilities of a Gleaner, the primal equivalent to a magewright or adept. Gleaners can cast cantrips and perform spells as rituals, and as always their may have abilities beyond the standard spells; Deep Wood light-weavers create long-lasting light sources using a form of faerie fire. Gleaners also work with beasts in many ways, mirroring the ideas suggested for dinosaurs in this Talenta article; beasts serve as messengers, scouts, guards, beasts of burden, mounts, small-scale livestock, and more. Other Reachers master primal gifts that aren’t spells, and could possess gifts that mirror specific class abilities. Quite a few Deep Wood shifters master a limited form of wild shape allowing them to assume the form of a particular beast a few times a day (something that’s sure to send any follower of the Pure Flame crying “Werewolf!!!!”); even some non-shifters master this gift. A hunter might have a ranger’s Favored Foe feature, even if they don’t cast spells. Essentially, the full powers of a druid are remarkable—but primal magic and primal gifts are part of daily life in the Deep Woods. It’s also worth noting that on the whole, the people of the Deep Woods are highly competent, because they have to be. There’s a reason the Children of Winter lament how eastern civilization coddles the weak but have no such complaints about the people of the Wood, and a reason why the population of the Wood is far lower than that of the fields. The Towering Woods are dangerous. Survival is hard, and everyone is expected to contribute to their community. Ranger or not, every denizen of the Deep Wood has to be prepared to fight for survival. The tools may vary—some prefer a bow, some their own teeth, some a thorrn whip—but the Woodfolk are tough as ironwood, because they have to be.

Within a typical Woods community, everyone has tasks assigned to help the community, based on the skills they possess. The gleaners and actual druids of the community provide spiritual guidance, an expansion of the druidic advisors seen in the fields. Having said that, there ARE communities that are entirely comprised of initiates and hunters. Looking to the Wardens of the Wood, what you’ll see most are patrols, which function much like Valenar warbands: self-sufficient units capable of living off the land, which follow established paths between the major communities—helping travelers, containing new threats that have emerged, and maintaining ties between communities. You can also find circles, which function much like monasteries in the outside world; groups of gleaners and actual druids maintaining sacred sites and performing rituals, often for the benefit of nearby communities; for example, a circle may perform rituals which repel or calm horrid beasts in a wide area, or that hold back the influence of Avassh.

When creating a Deep Woods community, here’s a few things to consider.

  • What sect are they associated with? Who’s their spiritual leader?
  • What species are part of the community?
  • Why have they chosen this location? Is there a manifest zone here, or an especially useful resource? In either case, how have they harnessed this?
  • Do they work with a specific sort of beast?
  • What are the most significant local threats? Does the community have a particular way of dealing with them?

If the Eldeen Reaches is so decentralized and lacks industry, how can it possibly challenge Aundair or any of the Five Nations?

There’s two key elements here. The first is the spirit and determination of the Reachers. It is unlikely that they could invade Aundair or Breland, but they have sworn to be independent and are willing to fight to the bitter end to maintain that independence. This ties to the point that the Wardens excel at small-unit guerilla tactics. Essentially, it’s a statement of you can try to invade us, but be warned that we will never surrender, that you will pay a price each and every day.

The second point is more enigmatic. While Thrane bends them a bit, in general the Five Nations play by the same set of rules. Go back a century and all their generals were trained at Rekkenmark. Their nations are grounded on arcane science and the services of the Dragonsmarked Houses. They know what to expect from one another. But the Eldeen Reaches don’t play by those rules. They’re a wide primal society, wielding a power that’s never been fully tested in this way. The Five Nations don’t know what the Reachers are capable of—and beyond that, the REACHERS don’t know what they’re capable of. The spells player characters wield provide us with a foundation, but Exploring Eberron already addresses arcane artillery and war rituals—the idea that the powers of a player character are oriented around swift squad combat. Given time, given tools, given a full circle of druids allied around the Great Druid themself—the Reachers wield the pure power of nature. They shattered the castles of tyrant lords with earthquakes and scattered armies with hurricanes. They terrified enemies with swarms of stinging insects and devastated them with plagues (“Those who survive will be stronger for it,” the Children of Winter say). The most infamous engagement was the battle for Varna, in which Lake Galifar itself rose up to fight for the Wardens. At least, that’s what the stories say. They’re surely exaggerated; but the point is that the druids were able to raise an elemental of unprecedented size and power that devastated Aundairian ships and sent their forces into disarray.

Even the Warden soldiers who were at the siege don’t know what was involved in raising Lake Galifar or if it could be done again. And that’s the point: the full capabilities of the Reaches are a mystery. Their army is a fraction of the size of any of the Five Nations. Their industrial capacity is far smaller. But no one—not even the Reachers themselves—knows what they are capable of. You can be sure that there’s teams in the Arcane Congress specifically devoted to analyzing and countering the primal capabilities of the Wardens. But for now, those mysterious powers are sufficient to give any nation pause.

Are there Treants in the Towering Wood?

Absolutely… both natural treants, fey treants, and the dreaded gaa’avash. In my campaign, the treants of the Towering Wood are the children of the Eldeen Ada. Each has its own distinct personality, but each treant is spiritually linked to one of the guardian trees and follows its direction. So Oalian doesn’t leave the Greenheart, but their child Gywahar was part of the Warden forces during the Secession and many of the enemy assumed the treant was Oalian themself. Meanwhile, fey treants are found in Thelanian manifest zones and essentially a variation of dryads—a different sort of tree story.

Avassh has great influence in the Towering Wood. Elsewhere there have been suggestions that the Barrens are barren because of some sort of massive defoliation effort enacted by the Dhakaani. Why wouldn’t the Towering Wood have suffered the same fate?

There’s no certain answer to this question in the present day; you’d need to consult ancient Dhakaani or the long-dead orcs of the Towering Wood. But there’s two obvious answers. The first is that Dhakaani lived in the region that’s now the Barrens, while they never lived in the Towering Wood. They had to do something because Avassh was destroying their people… while meanwhile, the orcs of the Towering Woods would never have supported such actions. Beyond this, I’d be inclined to say that whatever cataclysmic method they used likely wouldn’t have worked in the Towering Wood, which is “preternaturally fertile.” The primal power of the region made it a safer haven for Avassh, even if the titans themselves resisted her influence.

That’s all for now! As always, these answers are my opinions and may contradict canon sources. Thanks to my Patreon supporters for asking interesting questions and for making these articles possible; if you’d like to see more frequent articles or to be able to influence future topics, check it out!

58 thoughts on “IFAQ: The Eldeen Reaches, Continued

  1. One thing I think could be emphasized with the communities of the woods is that it’s not that they don’t practice agriculture – they just don’t clear cut the forest to do it. Lots of plants live their best lives in diverse environments and don’t respond well to the tightly-controlled rows of plants we associate with modern agriculture. Instead, the Shifters would plant and protect trees that provide food or other useful resources (gotta dig out that extensive list of 3.5 special materials). This is something I broadly see all the “wide primal” cultures doing.

    • One thing I think could be emphasized with the communities of the woods is that it’s not that they don’t practice agriculture – they just don’t clear cut the forest to do it.
      That is entirely the intent here. In the first draft I said that they don’t practice “wide-scale” agriculture; I’ve shifted this to “industrial agriculture.” The people of the woods definitely cultivate both flora and fauna; they just do so on a different scale and in different ways than the people of the farmlands. But yes, going into these techniques in more detail would require a deeper look into wide primal cultures.

  2. Even more amazing Reaches material! I have recently started up a game that takes place in Eldeen, using the stump of a titan as the jumping point, and that has been a lot of fun to explore. In a very obvious Princess Mononoke homage, Stump is protected by a guardian bear spirit called The Arzarius- who just returned to the settlement injured by happenings in the Gloaming.

    I think the Eldeen Reaches have so many hooks to tell a different kind of story. Thanks for expanding upon this even more!

  3. In terms of spells, Plant Growth seems like a standout both in terms of its effect on the food supply as well as its level placement – 3rd. Do communities tend to rely on a druid going around casting it as a PC would or is it more of a collective-of-gleaners kind of thing?

    • Absolutely! I’d tend to see that as the collective of gleaners—the community performing a number of rituals together. A powerful druid could certainly do it alone, but to me, it’s exactly the sort of thing that feels like a communal activity as opposed to a single person needing to get it done in six seconds.

      • Could even borrow from the Life Channeler druid from Pathfinder, where sacrifice of a humanoid grants the enrichment effect of Plant Growth. In certain areas dominated by the Ashbound, Children of Winter or even some cruel mockery of the spell by “gleaners” of Avassh

  4. During the 4e era, the concept of primal magic was directly integrated into Eberron, and you could have a shaman who directly conjured animistic, primal spirits.

    Does the concept of animistic, primal spirits exist in the Eldeen Reaches, if not Eberron altogether?

    • Does the concept of animistic, primal spirits exist in the Eldeen Reaches, if not Eberron altogether?
      Certainly. First of all, this is essentially the definition of the 5E spell “Summon Beast”, which specifically says you call forth a bestial spirit. The shifters have always spoken of Grandfather Rat and Grandmother Wolf; we have the Totems of Lamannia; and the Qaltiar drow are all about totemic beasts. I don’t think you generally encounter free-roaming bestial spirits just wandering around the Wood, but druids can definitely conjure animistic spirits from the essence of nature… as they do with Summon Beast.

      • Are Grandfather Rat, Grandmother Wolf, the Qaltiar spirits, and so on essentially aspects of Eberron and/or Lamannia?

  5. If there was some sort of open project or secret conspiracy to develop a “dragonmark of Leaves,” with dominion over plantlife, which factions in the Eldeen Reaches would you see spearheading it? The cultists of Avassh are an easy answer, but would any of the druidic circles have an interest in this?

    • I don’t really see the Eldeen sects as seeking a tool to give them dominion over plantlife; they already HAVE a tool in their druidic magic, and it’s based off of respect for the natural world as opposed to a desire to dominate it. So I’d lean toward Avassh or Dyrrn — especially since it’s been hinted before that the daelkyr could have been the source of the original dragonmarks.

  6. 3.5 Faiths of Eberron introduced the Nightbringers, a subsect of the Children of Winter specifically dedicated to Mabar. At least one was portrayed as directly entreating Mabaran ultroloths. Do you think that the idea of the Nightbringers is compatible with your current vision of the Children of Winter, or is it too difficult to integrate?

    • “With that said: Planes aren’t necessarily good or evil. Yet at the same time, they are in many ways UNNATURAL because they are extremes. MOST druids don’t agree with the Greensingers that the fey are part of nature. The Children of Winter believe in the natural cycle of death and decay, but they still try to contain the influence of the Gloaming because Mabar is nothing but death and decay; left unchecked, it throws off the balance. Druids appreciate the touch of Mabar and Irian—as they operate in harmony as part of the forces that shape the natural world.”

      So there’s ground to work in, but they’d be weird like the Greensingers, likely not a faction that the core Children would agree with

    • I have no issues with the Nightbringers, but I wouldn’t describe them as being part of the Children of Winter. The point of the Children is that they believe in the CYCLE of life and death. They believe Winter is coming because it’s a necessary step for the world to be reborn in a new Spring. Faiths of Eberron itself describes the goals of the Nightbringers as “believing that darkness is the ultimate destiny of the universe” and “working to hasten its conquest of the other planes.” That’s a fine goal for an extremist cult that can exist in the Gloaming. But they’re NOT Children of Winter, and I’d expect the actual Children of Winter to seek to stop them from breaking the natural cycle.

      • Is it reasonable to introduce the concept of moderate Nightbringers who are trying to convince the Empress of Shadows to prioritize claiming chunks of the Demon Wastes and the Mournland, such that Irian can seed new life into these blasted places?

  7. Page 132 of the 4e Eberron Campaign Guide specifically mentions: “Faced with bloodshed and the threat of annexation, the Wardens of the Wood raised an army of druids, rangers, and fey from the Towering Wood. With each victory, the Wardens rallied the Reachers, who quickly declared their independence. ”

    Who were these fey? Were they Shae Loralyndar fey? Were they simply repaying favors performed by the Greensingers, or did they have a deeper reason to fight for Eldeen independence?

    • I think there’s going to be a hitch here with the changing definitions of Fey across editions, but I think it makes plenty of sense that the Greensingers could call upon a mix of Fey allies, both bound by pact as well as their own reasons – the Aundairian and Brelish forces certainly seem antagonistic to the health of the woods.

        • Aundair already has strong ties to Thelanis.
          Sure, but this raises the crucial point that “Fey” and “Thelanis” are in no way monolithic forces. The Mother of Invention and the Forest Queen aren’t friends… and the Mother of Invention isn’t usually found in forests. The fact that Aundairan nobles may have made bargains with archfey to ensure the prosperity of their families doesn’t give them any sort of special pass when their soldiers start burning a dryad’s forest.

          • We were talking the Wild Hunt 3.5e monster from Monster Manual V, and how that might be very suitable as an archfey—perhaps calling themselves Rhaan, or a brother and sister duo of Therendor and Barrakas—who holds sway among a group within the Greensingers. Factions within the Greensingers like that who follow more aggressive forces (or ones that are simply temperamental) could be an additional way to introduce antagonistic factions venturing from the Towering Wood into the wider world.

            • Definitely a good possibility! With that said, I’ll suggest another, based on the fact that you can always keep the general mechanics and concept of a creature while changing details, especially to surprise players who may THINK they recognize the creature… The Wild Hunt could be the prakhutu of the Wild Heart. It’s a powerful, immortal entity that thrives on hunting and terrifying powerful entities. One aspect of this is this is that it explains why it may take an interest in player characters rather than creatures that are concretely more powerful than the player characters, IE dragons; it’s not simply that they are powerful, it’s that hunting them is tied to the Prophecy or is otherwise part of a specific ritual to strengthen its master. Now, one might say “I thought the prakhutu of the Wild Heart was Drulkalatar Atesh.” Maybe so, how do you know Drulkalatar ISN’T the Wild Huntsman? He doesn’t need to be hunting ALL THE TIME… and especially when it comes to immortals, I’m perfectly OK with the idea that his actual abilities change when he goes into “Hunt Mode”; again, immortals are ultimately ideas, and the idea that Drulkalatar can be the Feral Hand when subtlety is required or the Wild Hunt when there is a target to hunt makes perfect sense to me! The only real change that would be required is to shift the creature type from fey to fiend.

      • This is exactly correct. The Warden forces that supported the secession were an alliance of all of the major sects, including the Greensingers. The Greensingers called on fey allies… most likely in a highly temporary fashion, as ANY druid can technically call on fey using Conjure Woodland Beings. It’s not that there were troops of fey camped out with Warden forces for extended periods of time; it’s that they were able to call on fey forces when they were specifically needed.

      • Any dryad with a tree in the Reaches already has reason for defending that territory. Just using that as one of many possible examples.
        Also correct. And again, the Greensingers specialize in dealing with the fey, but they are a part of life in the Towering Wood and all of its denizens learn how to spot a dryad’s grove and how to interact with them.

        • Page 194 of 5e Exploring Eberron says: “Supporting cast that drift into manifest zones become mortal fey, dwelling in the zone until they die.”

          What drives so many fey to become mortals in the Eldeen Reaches (e.g. in the Twilight Demesne)? Can they become immortal again by returning to Thelanis?

          • What drives so many fey to become mortals in the Eldeen Reaches (e.g. in the Twilight Demesne)?
            You’re giving them too much agency. The whole point of supporting cast is that they don’t MAKE decisions. In the same section, ExE says “The hungry giant will always be guarding the well. If adventurers defeat the giant, they’re the heroes of the hour and it feels like a triumph; but if they return to the barony at a later date, the giant will be back—or at least, a remarkably similar giant—and it won’t remember them or acknowledge their previous victory.” The giant by the well isn’t immortal in the same sense as Mordakhesh. It has, essentially, NO identity or agency. It’s just that if it dies, Thelanis will make a new one; there will always be a giant by the well. The giant isn’t going to choose to go into a manifest zone; it might happen by accident due to some sort of planar flux, or something about the story might send it down that path. Once it’s in Eberron, it’s fallen out of its story, so if it dies, it won’t come back. And meanwhile, because it’s fallen out of the story, Thelanis will make a new one—because there’s always a giant at the well.

            Can they become immortal again by returning to Thelanis?
            Sure, though HOW it could return to Thelanis would depend on how it got there in the first place. But again, regaining immortality as a member of the supporting cast is a very mixed blessing. In some ways, this is the same question as whether the embers ever get bored of the parades in Irian. The subjects of Daanvi, embers of Irian, supporting cast of Thelanis—they don’t have persistent identity like mortals do. They’re immortal in the sense that if you kill them, they’ll always return; but they don’t really experience the passage of time or have significant awareness or goals.

  8. Page 19 of 3.5 Dragonmarked says: “Jorlanna negotiated house access to the Eldeen Reaches through the Wardens of the Wood, allowing Cannith sages to study ruins and magical locales under the druids’ supervision.”

    Are these Cannith West sages still studying the Eldeen Reaches? Are there Cannith West outposts deep in the Reaches, supported by House Vadalis through the Twelve? They sound like an easy way to pull in dragonmarked-house-affiliated PCs into Eldeen explorations.

    Speaking of the dragonmarked, does the Aurum have any meaningful presence in the Eldeen Reaches at all? It sounds like a stretch, but are there Aurum concordians amongst the druidic sects, trying to find ways to use druidic magic to one-up the dragonmarked houses?

    • I think a more likely place for the Aurum is the farms of the Eastern Reaches – Varna of course, but towns like Meryslward as well. People who sought financial independence from Fairhaven (Taxation for soldiers that don’t defend you!) but aren’t buying into the druids anarcho-communism.

    • So regarding Cannith in the Reaches, I have two primary thoughts. The first is that I absolutely think that Cannith has TRIED to build outposts and to harvest the resources of the Towering Wood in the past and that IT’S ENDED BADLY. So I might have an adventure that involves Cannith-linked PCs trying to find a Cannith outpost that was lost in the Wood centuries ago… or even one that was lost in the 950s when the secession occurred.

      This in turn addresses the second question. Yes, Jorlanna has negotiated to have Cannith sages under druid surpervision. Rather than saying this is a thing that HAS happened, in my campaign I’d say that it’s something that is happened RIGHT NOW. If adventurers have ties to Cannith, they could be sent to protect such an expedition; if they have ties to the Ashbound they could be sent to shut it down.

      As for the Aurum… there’s two scenarios where I can see someone who’s both truly devoted to one of the druidic sects also being an Aurum concordian. The one idea would be a classic Bond Villain who is secretly an Ashbound mastermind plotting to collapse all arcane industry—which is to say that their Aurum membership is largely a mask, and they are using the resources of the Aurum to ultimately bring down both the houses and the Aurum itself. The second idea would be an urban Reacher — IE, powerful person in Varna — who is trying to use Aurum connections to help the overall influences of the Reaches, essentially engaging in shadow diplomacy. But I don’t see someone managing to reconcile both true druidic faith and a shallow desire for gold and urban influence.

  9. Given the size of the titan trees, how big a community could live in it’s crown would you say? Possibly using the tree itself with some primal magic to get groundwater up to the settlement. (tree city be cool)

    A ponder however, could the titan trees be that large due to the same magical effect that made the giants large?

  10. Do the druidic sects (Ashbound, Children of Winter, Gatekeepers, Greensingers, Wardens of the Wood, maybe even the Nightbringers) ever have any convocations wherein they send representatives to Greenheart to debate matters, or are such convocations unfeasible for one reason or another?

    • Greenheart definitely fits as a neutral meeting ground for when the sects need to negotiate. I certainly see it as where they met to agree to formally secede.

    • This is called out in the Player’s Guide to Eberron: “In return, most druids respect Oalian as the ultimate spiritual authority in the region, and they gather at Greenheart for important conclaves and rituals.”

  11. Do the Ashbound consider the plane of Lamannia sufficiently “natural,” or is it deemed just as unnatural as Thelanis or Mabar? Are the Ashbound split on this subject?

    • Lamannia is the archetypal embodiment of nature; ExE notes some sages assert that the presence of a creature in Lamannia is what defines it as “natural.” Lamannian manifest zones may strengthen primal magic, remove unnatural impurities, or strengthen plants and animals. Generally druids view Lamannian manifest zones as primal blessings. With that said, most don’t want to go to Lamannia or to somehow turn Eberron INTO Lamannia. In the eyes of most druids, the material plane doesn’t need to be protected from Lamannia, but it also isn’t supposed to BE Lamannia.

  12. Obligatory Fashion Questions:
    We can assume that in the eastern reaches, the ex-aundairans probably still wear rural Aundairian fashion. What about the Wardens though? Do you envision your denizens of the Towering Wood wearing clothes hewn from fern fronds and woven vines? Or cured leathers and furs? Exotic Lamannian silks? Are there a particular real-world cultures you’ve pulled on for inspiration for the various peoples of the Reaches?

    • As noted, the Woods contains many different subcultures and their fashions will be as diverse as their shelters. Some surely use an equivalent to Aereni leafweave, while others use hides and furs. I think you’d definitely have weavers at the Crossroads. However, it’s not a topic I’ve explored in the past, and personally I would want to explore real world precedents before making any concrete decisions. As a person with an interest in the topic, do any real-world examples come to mind?

      • On a related note, what’d materials would be used for weapons? Myself have described flint stone for the ashbound.

      • Looking at cultures of temperate rainforests, I think looking at the maori culture and people would be interesting. The Polynesian style of grass skirts and bare chests. I think that this would lend to a lot of people’s perception of Eldeen as well. Speaking as a white woman, many people would look at Eldeen and make assumptions about the people living there, particularly that because it isn’t considered to be similar to western civilization is must be “savage” and have all of those traits of indigenous peoples.

        Now I also REALLY like turning things on their head. Another temperate rainforrest is Korea. And Y’know Keith. In the last Threshold Episode one of the Fae WAS wearing an outfit based on Hanbok, traditional dress of Korea. I adore the idea of some peoples of the towering wood traipsing about the mossy forest floor in old Korean outfits.

        If I were writing a campaign or game for Eldeen I’d spend time taking the cultures above then putting the ol’ Eberron aesthetics twist on them. Because in the end this is fantasy. It doesn’t MATTER if it is practical or how something would REALLY look/work, it only matters that it looks rad as hell.

        • All good ideas! It’s something I’d love to explore if/when I do a REALLY deep dive into the Eldeen.

        • Mind you, the clothing should be climate specific. And the Reaches cover a fairly big area, if this map is any indication:

          I would expect I climate more or less like the interior of Washington, Oregon and northern California in the south, and the interior of British Columbia (which itself varies by latitude) in the north, with the coastal north being possibly similar to the northern coast of B.C. So, warm clothes in the winter, and really warm clothing up north.

          It is also worth thinking about local materials. I doubt there would be much weaving in the Towering Wood, because I don’t think wooly animals tend to be woodland animals. So clothing will either be tanned hides or fur, unless fabrics or blankets are traded for. Although you could posit mountain sheep or wild llamas/alpacas (or wooly tribex) in the mountains; if not domesticated they would not produce a lot of true wool, and what they did produce would likely shed in the spring. Any local wool would probably be rare.

          So probably mostly buckskin and furs, likely trimmed with colourful tribex flanks (which wouldn’t be part of the wooly undrecoat of a woolly tribex) and whatever other colourful materials that could be found locally (byeshk beadwork, maybe?). Ceremonial garb including wood and bone elements.

          • Animal fibers and textiles could be derived from feathers; sloth fur/hair; the shed fur of shifters, weres, and therianthropes as they revert back to humanoid forms (jackets made from your beloved as courting objects); angora rabbit analogues (ranches of horrid bunnies!); spider and other animal silks; processed fish and eel organs, and skeletal bits; and processed slimes from everywhere.

            Plant sources could include fibrous plants identical or analogous to kapok and cotton (seeds); bamboo, banana, hemp and flax (stems); bamboo and reeds (structural bits and plates); coconuts (husks); and lilies, manila and sisal (leaves).

            Asbestos fibers were a wonder material in our industrial age, and wide primal magic should be able to counteract the negatives and find or create similar minerals.

            And then if you want to get really weird, how about an awakened fungus (hive mind) like Ophiocordyceps unilateralis (zombie ant fungus), that can extrude fibrous yarns (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214993721000117) and is farming pony-sized ants and termites in the southern half of a fallen titan. They are looking for investors…

            The colors, textures and scents that a primal version of Prestidigitation could incorporate boggle my mind.

            Eldeen fashion doesn’t all have to be your grandmother’s rough leathers.

  13. Nice to see my question answered. Although I think someone else worded my question differently. 🙂

    Do any of you have a campaign in the Eldeen Reaches? Do you have characters play Reachers?

    • My current home campaign is a Reaches campaign. Only one player has a character who is from the region, a fairy who had to move as the Gloaming expanded. Another player is a former Karrnathi soldier who mercenaried for House Deneith and got lost in the region during the War (and Thelanis time jumps). The third player is a Cyran dryad who was in Shae Loralyndar when the Mourning struck and is now severed from her home tree but still alive.

  14. What is happening with awakened animals in the Eldeen Reach. Rising I believe mentions they do exist. Do they live in deep wood communities as one of the people or are they hunted and eaten like any other beast?

    Also are awakened animals seen as citizens under the code of Galifer?

    • I’d say yes to the co-existence in the wood and no to being hunted and eaten. And I believe they do have rights- there is, after all, a giant eagle councilor in Sharn!

  15. These articles are a godsend, I’ve been cooking up my first proper campaign, and it’s focused on the Reaches.

    Question: how much easier or harder would it be for servants of an Overlord to infiltrate a druid circle than the more modern organizations of Khorvaire? My idea is that cultists of the Wild Heart managed to infiltrate the Ashbound and seek to drive a wedge between the druid circles, but how likely would such a plan be to succeed?

    • I feel like this is a question dependent on the overlord; the Ashbound are going to be much quicker to root out a servant of the Court of Shadows, while I definitely could see a wererat servant of the Wild Heart maintaining deep cover within the Ashbound.

      Keith is also going to cover the Wild Heart more in depth later this month as a Patreon exclusive, so hopefully we’ll get a better sense of how many fully-humanoid cultists it has compared to its reliance on those who have been turned into ‘thropes (eg, is the Feral Heart of House Vadalis a WIld Heart cult?)

  16. What happened to the Aundairan aristocracy that had interests in the Eldeen Plains? I imagine some were absentee lords who simply lost their lands, but what of those who actually lived there?

    And for a related question, to what extent are there castles or other fortification on the Plains?

    • What happened to the Aundairan aristocracy that had interests in the Eldeen Plains? I imagine some were absentee lords who simply lost their lands, but what of those who actually lived there?
      There was certainly significant warning as to what was happening. Some surely fled. Some chose to embrace the change and renounce their titles. Others fought; some died, others were captured and ransomed to Aundair.

      And for a related question, to what extent are there castles or other fortification on the Plains?
      It’s a good question, but not one I can go into detail in here. The region wasn’t as well developed as the rest of Aundair, but there were certainly some castles and fortresses. Some of these were destroyed in the uprising—remember when I said they unleashed earthquakes? Not to mention that treants are siege monsters. But there are probably a few that remained intact; what’s happening with them now would be a case by case question.

  17. Is there anything special about Lake Galifar? Are there Eldeen druids who work rituals along its edges, if not atop or within its waters?

  18. Is cannibalism something that’s practiced in Eldeen, or would it be fringe sects and outlawed by the wardens?

    • Why would it be? There’s no shortage of food; as noted, they’re careful to keep track of local resources, and with the merging with the east they actually have a vast food surplus. I don’t particularly see why they’d have a tradition of eating their dead… and beyond that, cannibalism has been called out as a way to create ghouls, which is a pretty strong reason not to encounter it as a cultural mainstay. You could definitely encounter it in a Wild Heart cult, but I don’t see why any of the core Eldeen sects would practice cannibalism.

      With that said, I also don’t think they’d place any importance on preserving the dead; I think the see fertilizing the land and returning to the soil as the natural cycle.

  19. With the importance and rarity of some of the tree types in the Reaches, are there attempts to clone them by domestic or foreign entities? Root cloning is a pretty old tech, and some species do it naturally.

  20. > Given time, given tools, given a full circle of druids allied around the Great Druid themself—the Reachers wield the pure power of nature.

    Is the Great Ghost Dance beyond their capabilities?

    > The Great Ghost Dance was a powerful magic ritual, led by Daniel Howling Coyote, used by the [Native American Nations union] in the Ghost Dance War to cause Mts. Hood, Rainier, St. Helens, and Adams to erupt simultaneously, the magical equivalent of nuclear war. […] After the Great Ghost Dance, the United States admitted defeat and drew up the Treaty of Denver.

    I’ve often thought that if Eberron gets another five hundred years intact, it’ll start looking a lot like Shadowrun.

    • Literally, who knows? The point is that they’ve never tried to do something on that scale, so literally no one knows if they could if pushed to that point. We’re back to the “experiment” side of things—and the idea that Aundair would like to figure out both what the Reaches are actually capable of and how to counter it before they make a move.

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