Last week I was at MegaCon in Florida playing games with Six Sides of Gaming, and I’m busy working on Wayfinder, which is entering early access soon, so I’m still working on the next Dragonmark article! However, whenever time permits I like to answer short questions posed by my Patreon supporters. So let’s look at a few of those.
There’s a lot of lore about the Bloodsails of Farlnen, the Aereni, and the Tairnadal. The Wind Whisperers of Orthoss also trace their roots back to Aerenal? How do they approach death?
So, to start, let’s take a look at what’s been said about the Wind Whisperers…
Not all of the Aereni refugees sought shelter in the shadow of the Fingerbones. Some fully embraced Lhazaar culture, mingling with humans and creating a significant population of half-elves. The island of Orthoss is a haven for the Khoravar, and half-elves from across Khorvaire have found their way to the town of Blackrock. Notably, the Lhazaar lifestyle has attracted a number of members of House Medani and House Lyrandar over the centuries — young rebels seeking an escape from the smothering traditions of their houses.
First and foremost, what this tells us is that the Wind Whisperers ARE NOT AN ELF CULTURE like the Bloodsails, the Aereni, and the Tairnadal. They don’t have a lot of full-blooded elves and thus aren’t shaped by some of the biological aspects of being an elf—notably the exceptionally long lifespan, which is part of why the pure elf cultures are so concerned about avoiding death. They are a KHORAVAR culture that from the start fully embraced Lhazaar culture; they have had a steady influx of immigrants bringing their own traditions; the PRINCE is a Lyrandar excoriate who wasn’t even born on the island. It’s described as a haven for “young rebels seeking an escape from the smothering traditions of their houses” and its people are said to be “as wild and unpredictable as the wind itself.”
So: consider the general rebellion against smothering traditions and the fact that the prince is an immigrant; the Wind Whisperers don’t WANT to cling to ancient traditions and they aren’t going to be obsessed with their ancestors. On the contrary, the Wind Whisperers embrace constant change. The fact that they are led by Koulton is proof that they are always looking to the immigrants to bring them NEW traditions and ideas; they don’t want to force old beliefs on people, they want to adapt and incorporate to new ones. So the Wind Whisperers of the present day may have very different traditions than they did five hundred years ago, and THEY may have been quite different five hundred years before that. And, as you note, Orthoss isn’t noted for Mabaran or Irian manifest zones, which drive the culture of the Aereni and the Grim.
To address the specific question — how do they approach death — I’d say that they have a casual and comfortable relationship with death. They don’t try to cling to their ancestors or their past; they are like the wind, ever flowing and moving forward. We are here and then we’re gone, but the wind will always flow; not exactly a belief in reincarnation as much as a approach of It’s all going to be all right; don’t try to fight the wind, allow it to carry you on to whatever lies beyond. But again, that’s a general, casual idea because the Wind Whisperers HATE SMOTHERING TRADITIONS and are always open to change.
What’s a good reason for a Talenta adventurer to remain away from the Plains for an extended period of time—something beyond duty to clan, spirit or the houses? What’s something that could drive an outlander to want to become less of an outsider?
This is a tricky question, and I’m going to include a few answers that don’t quite fit the question. But here’s a few immediate ideas that tie to the question of why doesn’t the outlander go home?
FOUND FAMILY. This is the usual path *I* have taken when I have played this sort of character. If, over the course of adventures, I have formed a bond to any of the other adventurers — if we’ve bled for one another, if we’ve saved each other’s lives — then THEY are my clan, and as long as one of them is in danger or has unfinished business, I will remain and see the journey through with them. They may not have ASKED me to do this; they may not share my belief that we are family; but if *I* believe that we are bound in blood, that is sufficient.
NOTHING TO RETURN TO. One of the simplest reasons to LEAVE the Plains is because your clan is no longer there. This could be because they were wiped out; you may have originally left seeking vengeance on whatever force destroyed them. It could be because you were exiled: the remain but you’re not part of the clan any more. Or for the more positive outcome, it could be because YOUR WHOLE CLAN left the Plains; they’ve immigrated to Sharn at the request of, say, Saidan Boromar, and now your task is to help them settle and to protect them from the dangers of this new world. Depending on your choices, this is an obvious pairing with Found Family; you lost your clan and now you’ve found a new one.
NEW SPIRITS. An important part of Talenta belief is that spirits are EVERYWHERE, not just the on the Plains… and the spirits of, say, Sharn have no one who listens for them. They may be suffering, creating spiritual cankers, or they might have things that need to be done and no one who can help. If the character goes back to the Plains, they are just one of countless people working with the spirits; they aren’t NEEDED. In Sharn, no one else hears the cries of the spirits and they could play a truly unique role.
IS THERE ANYTHING OF VALUE? Does the character believe that there is absolutely nothing of interest in the world beyond the Plains? Or do they think there’s might be something worth bringing home—anything that could improve the life of their clan, whether that’s a single magical tool or a new technique? If they haven’t found anything, are they still sure there’s nothing to find? Essentially, they could take an active role in trying to discover the most valuable things in wherever they are — not necessarily monetary value, but things that could help their clan. Can they learn new crafting techniques? Master a new form of magic? Learn a new way of communicating with spirits, or even discover a new form of spirit?
PERSONAL INTEREST. What do THEY want? Is there anything in this world that has caught their attention? Have they fallen in love… which could be with a person, a place, or an idea? Might they want to become a star of the Crystal Theater, to outshine the legend of Boroman ir’Dayne or to woo a Boromar heir? Have they heard the story of a Talenta champion who came to the region centuries ago and lost a legendary artifact… and can they find both the story and the artifact itself? Do they encounter a traveler from a rival clan, with a score than must be settled?
That’s far from a comprehensive list, but that’s all the time I have and hopefully something there will prove useful! Thanks again to my Patreon supporters for asking interesting questions and making these articles possible. Also, I’m going to be running my next Frontiers adventure later this month—if you’d like to have a chance to play a session with me, check out my Patreon!
I love seeing the Spirits are Everywhere in play. Talentans are fun. Thanks, Keith!
Thanks for including my question in an IFAQ again, and for the small additions like last time!
I was wondering though, are the bits of lore we have about the Talenta Plains creating more or other confict than originally intended, or is that just me overthinking it?
I’m seeing a lot of the modernity vs. tradition conflict creating more friction than expected, split loyalties galore, and it seems most resolutions go either at the expense of the halflings’ values or at the expense of player character agency. Purely individual motivations erase the culture, predominantly altruistic or loyalty-based ones risk sidelining players. The motivation conflict even extends into the metagame: Players are likely to choose Talenta halflings for the dinosaurs, and then need to return to the Plains to interact with them.
A solution might be placing the clans’ interests outside the plains more, but it is hard to find crafting techniques or practical items from the industrialized 5 Nations, which could be reproduced or even repaired in a nomadic society. The problem keeps getting displaced, from character to clan to culture, but it’s tricky to solve in a satisfyingly coherent way. Even with magic, I see a lot of the same issues, mainly because magewrights and industry rely a lot on dragonshards.
I think I remember something about the Talenta being added into the setting later, based on art too? That might explain why the connections to the rest of the world feel like rope bridges with missing planks to me sometimes. I could really use some more bridges, especially a Kanon reaction to the Mourning. It only just occurred to me, but how does that one keep NOT coming up? The clans’ council canonically gathers in plain view of Metrol and the Mist!
Anyways, if anyone else has dealt with similar Talenta issues, I’m curious how you resolved them, or if you think I’m making this harder than it has to be!
In your eberron, would the mournland have spirits?
I think the restless dead and fey count as spirits to the Talenta, there are undead in the Mournland in most iterations, and there’s some fey in the Thorn of Breland series, if I’m not mixing up my spires.
So yes, it has, and many are probably at least somewhat malevolent.