Lightning Round: Dragons, Tarkanan, and More!

Hi Everyone!

The last two months have been a whirlwind of travel and deadlines, and that’s kept me largely off the internet. In addition to traveling to GenCon, DragonCon, and XOXO, I’ve been working on Exploring Eberron—The Book Formerly Known As Project Raptor—and also on the game Twogether Studios is developing with the Adventure Zone. I’m also preparing to DM at Level Eater in Portland and G.A.M.E in Springfield!

In my next post I’ll talk more about all of these things, and about Eberron: Rising From The Last War, the Eberron hardcover that is  coming out in November. Today, I want to quickly answer a few questions from my Patreon supporters!

If Aberrant Marks can’t be passed on like normal Dragonmarks, what is life typically like for the children of House Tarkanan?

For those unfamiliar with aberrant dragonmarks or House Tarkanan, this article might be a useful crash course on some of the issues associated with them.

As for this question: remember that “House Tarkanan” is nothing like a Dragonmarked House. It’s a name this organization took in mockery of the Dragonmarked Houses, sort of like a gang calling themselves “The Kings of Callestan.” Just because they call themselves “Kings” doesn’t mean they actually have any sort of sovereign power! The Dragonmarked Houses are multinational guilds formed many centuries ago through the alliances of powerful families. They are dynasties as well as businesses with a presence in multiple nations and on multiple continents. By contrast, House Tarkanan was started less than a decade ago by the survivors of a disavowed Brelish commando unit. It has expanded its operations since then, but it is still a small organization and still fundamentally a criminal organization, NOT a dynasty. You aren’t born into House Tarkanan and you don’t need to marry into it; you’re simply recruited into it. Members often use the last name Tarkanan, but that’s an affectation. The leader of the gang often calls herself Thora Tarkanan, but her actual name is Thora Tavin.

So the main point is that there are no “children of House Tarkanan.” The organization thrives by recruiting new members, not by breeding them. If you’re a Tarkanan enforcer, you could marry a Morgrave librarian and have five kids; marked or unmarked, your spouse and children aren’t considered members of House Tarkanan unless they are recruited into it.

With that said, the issue behind the question is the idea that aberrant dragonmarks aren’t hereditary. And on that point, I’m going to change MY stance slightly. We’ve always said that the most reliable way to produce an aberrant dragonmark is to cross the bloodlines of two different houses—that this is more likely to produce an aberrant mark than a person with an aberrant mark having a child. And I stand by that, in general, with one exception: I think it’s fair to say that if both parents have aberrant dragonmarks, the odds of producing an aberrant child are the same as if you mixed two house bloodlines… that two aberrants ALSO produce a “mixed mark.” Since the War of the Mark, aberrant marks have been so rare that this has rarely been an issue. But now aberrant marks are starting to appear in greater numbers, and forces like House Tarkanan are concentrating them. So this is a factor that COULD lead to House Tarkanan producing more aberrant heirs.

But the critical question is… does it want to? 

Even if you have a more reliable way to produce an aberrant mark, one of the defining factors of aberrant marks is that they are unpredictable: even if two aberrant parents produce a child with an aberrant mark, most likely that mark will have NOTHING IN COMMON with the marks of the parents. The semi-canon example we have of this is in the novel The Son of Khyber. Tarkanan lieutenant Filleon is the son of Ghallanda-Jorasco parents and has a mark that gives him a lethal touch. His daughter Zae has a mark that lets her communicate with and control vermin… nothing to do with his mark, or Jorasco, or Ghallanda. The second key element is that fact that most aberrant marks have serious physical or mental side effects. In Son of Khyber, Filleon has a withered arm that’s a result of his mark, and accidentally killed his mother when his mark manifested. While Zae can communicate with rats, it appears that she can’t actually speak; Filleon himself says that her mark is a mental burden and that he feels pity for her. Essentially, if you’re a Cannith heir with the Mark of Making, there’s no reason not to pass that on to a child. If you’re an aberrant, you have no idea if your child will develop a mark they come to see as a curse, and you also know they’ll be ostracized and persecuted.

With player characters we tend to downplay the negative side effects of aberrant marks and leave it primarily up to the player to roleplay them. But the intent is that aberrant marks are difficult and dangerous. If we look to the X-Men as a comparison, consider Cyclops—the idea that if he loses his glasses, people may die. Or Rogue, unable to touch someone without draining their life force and memories. House Tarkanan wants to protect people with aberrant marks, and to train them to use their powers. But it’s a valid question if they’d actually want to dramatically increase the number of people with aberrant marks, given how often those marks can be a burden to the people who carry them.

Do aberrant marks follow the rules of if they are removed they will manifest again elsewhere on the body? Would they manifest with the same drawback? I know the novel dwarf has essentially regeneration backlash.

Aberrant marks are dragonmarks. As such, yes, if removed they will manifest elsewhere on the body. Essentially, the power doesn’t actually come FROM the physical mark; rather, the mark is a manifestation of the power. Cut the mark off, the power remains, and eventually the mark reappears. Whether the drawback remains the same depends on the drawback. In the case of the ratspeaker Zae, the idea is that her POWER is what drives her a little crazy; she hears whispering rats in her head all the time. As long as she has that power, it will be a burden. On the other hand, if Filleon cut off his withered arm, maybe that would be that… or maybe the power of the mark would cause ANOTHER one of his limbs to wither. There’s no absolute rules, and I don’t see that as something Filleon would be inclined to put to the test.

The dwarf Brom is an unusual character who would be difficult to create as a PC—an example of a greater or Khyber-level mark. He has essentially, a dramatic form of regeneration blended with reincarnation; when he’s injured, the cells regenerate, but typically as cells of a random humanoid. And certainly, if his mark was removed, it would return.

My general understanding is that the Aurum represents an ascendant merchant class that chafes at both Nations’ and the Houses’ powers – Something which puts them at least somewhat into alignment with Tarkanan. How do you think they would align and how would they conflict?

In many ways the Aurum and House Tarkanan are opposites. The Aurum is a collection of wealthy, privileged people who want even more wealth and power. By contrast, House Tarkanan was founded by betrayed soldiers, and represents an alliance of people scorned and feared by all, people who have endured poverty and hardship. Tarkanan is a very SMALL organization – per WGtE, a “small, elite force” and only just starting to establish itself beyond Sharn – while the Aurum is spread across Khorvaire. Members of House Tarkanan are united both by their marks and the persecution they’ve endured; they feel a sense of kinship and they generally do seek to help others with aberrant marks. Meanwhile, the Aurum is largely an alliance of convenience; they aren’t driven to help other wealthy people in need.

I could see two basic points. One would be straightforward. Tarkanan is a group of mercenary criminals. The Aurum are people with money who need mercenaries to do their dirty work. It is thus entirely reasonable for an Aurum mastermind to hire House Tarkanan to assist in an operation targeting a house,  and Tarkanan would be happy to take the job. The other possibility would be for a member of the Shadow Cabinet, such as Antus Soldorak, to recognize Tarkanan as a useful tool in their goal of destabilizing houses; with this in mind, they would offer Tarkanan gold and resources, while suggesting targets. Tarkanan is a small organization and would likely be happy to have that wealthy patron. I wouldn’t make the alliance any more direct than that. Thora would likely know very little about the patron, likely not even their name; part of the point would be that the Aurum could USE Tarkanan—known to have a grudge with the houses—as a catspaw to undertake missions they don’t want traced back to them.

If a dragonmarked heir became a warlord of Droaam somehow, would anyone call them out for violating the Korth Edicts?

Galifar I established the Korth Edicts, which forbid dragonmarked heirs from holding land, noble title, or maintaining military forces. In the wake of the Last War, it’s very unclear who could actually enforce the Korth Edicts. MOST people abide by them, because they carry the weight of centuries of tradition. But there’s a number of active examples where houses are violating the Edicts and nothing is being done. Essentially, sure, someone COULD call them out… and then what? Unless that person has powerful friends who take such an interest that they are willing to try to lean on the heir’s Baron to address the situation, odds are good it would be one more case where the Edicts are been violated and nothing is being done.

With that said, it’s also a weird issue because Droaam isn’t recognized as a sovereign nation. As such, being a warlord of Droaam likely wouldn’t be recognized as a “noble title” under the terms of the Edicts.

In an episode of Manifest Zone you (I think!) mentioned that the giants of Xen’drik were more like titans rather than the several sub-races that exist now. Could you expand on that at all? If the giants were like titans did the dragons curse the race when they destroyed their empire, deliberately fragmenting the race so they could not rise to dominance again?

That’s correct. This is covered in the 3.5 sourcebooks Secrets of Xen’drik and City of Stormreach. This is from City of Stormreach. 

In dealing with the giants of Xen’drik, it’s important to bear in mind that the giants have not always been such a divergent species. Many scholars claim that all modern giants—stone and hill, fire and frost—share a common biological ancestor, beyond the mythical titans. Some adventurers speak of encounters with primordial giants or eldritch giants, and this could be the answer to these stories. In any case, evidence exists that a few of the giant subspecies—such as the fire giants of the Sul’at League—existed prior to the great cataclysm. But others, most notably the hill giants, are said to be the result of curses unleashed in that war… powers unleashed by the dragons to prevent any giant nation from rising to its prior heights.

Titans were founders and leaders of many of the giant nations, while the “common” giants were more in the mode of storm giants or eldritch giants. The dragons unleashed epic curses—the Traveler’s Curse, the Durashka Tul, and more—and the modern giants are a reflection of these curses.

Are the half-giants a result of magebreeding or some sort of result of the curses like the hill giants? Are they actually “half” anything or are they simply the smallest giants?

The canon answer is given in the Player’s Guide to Eberron:

In the distant past, giant explorers from Xen’drik visited southern Sarlona. Their descendants are the half-giants described in the Expanded Psionics Handbook. It is unclear whether half-giants actually have human ancestry or are simply degenerate descendants of the titans of Xen’drik (as most giant kinds are believed to be).

This is echoed in Secrets of Sarlona…

Perhaps the most baffling of all the races on the continent, the nomadic half-giants of Sarlona are descendants of ancient giant explorers from Xen’drik. Some say the half-giants are degenerate offspring of the Xen’drik titans, while others contend they have a mixed human ancestry.

Are ogres and trolls actually related to the giants in the ways they are in other settings, or are they simply parallel creatures with similar traits (size, strength, ferocity) but different origins?

In my opinion, ogres and trolls are entirely unrelated to giants, which is one reason we suggests that the ogres and trolls of Khorvaire should speak Goblin instead of Giant. Trolls are likely part of the same biological path as orcs; ogres developed on Sarlona.

I am using Sarmondelaryx as a Patron for one of my players, in my campaign she has been sealed by Harryn Stormblade a couple of centuries prior to the start of our campaign. What kind of goals would you think she would be aspiring to for when she manages to get released? 

Sarmondelaryx is a character referenced in the Thorn of Breland novel series. She is a rogue red dragon possessing a set of powerful dragonshard artifacts; these help her avoid detection (and thus the Eyes of Chronepsis) and to bind souls, which has the effect of extending her life. She is infamous for having killed the first Prince Thrane and devastating the nation in the early days of Galifar.

So: Sarmondelaryx is a powerful, virtually immortal dragon with enemies in both Argonnessen and Ashtakala. She has consumed demons and slain dragons, and personally I would double down on her desire to make both sides suffer—to be a wild card in the ancient war between the Conclave and the Lords of Dust. I’d see her trying to stir up conflicts between the Lords of Dust and the Chamber, setting situations where they end up fighting each other while Sarmondelaryx (or her agent) escapes with whatever prize they were seeking. What does she want? She always wants to increase her own power… but as much as anything, I think she enjoys the game of outsmarting both of the superpowers, making her enemies suffer and proving her superiority.

The church of the silver Flame seems to have a lot of variance in its presentation by author. Structurally, it consistently has the big three orders of ministers/Templars/friars. Are other orders subsidiaries of those? Same organizational level but smaller and less prominent?

Certainly. The templars, ministers, and friars are the core roles of the church. The templar defends; the minister guides a particular community; and the friar remains in motion, bringing the light of the Flame to dark places. But within those three broad categories there are many orders and sects, many with narrower missions. For example, the Argentum is technically tied to the Templars, but it is tasked with seeking out dangerous magical relics. Some of these lesser orders are also specific to particular nations; the Argentum is a Thrane order.

That’s all for now—stay tuned for more on Exploring Eberron!

44 thoughts on “Lightning Round: Dragons, Tarkanan, and More!

  1. Very awesome. Always love reading more about aberrant marks.

    Do aberrant marks follow the rules of if they are removed they will manifest again elsewhere on the body? Would they manifest with the same drawback? I know the novel dwarf has essentially regeneration backlash.

  2. “while the “common” giants were more in the mode of storm giants or eldritch giants. The dragons unleashed epic curses—the Traveler’s Curse, the Durashka Tul, and more—and the modern giants are a reflection of these curses.”

    That sounds like they were able to deliberately undergo a process like binding themselves to a planar shard pr something to hop from one “mode” to another rather than circumstances of birth or a one way transformation prior to the dragons ending their empire & cursing them. How involved on a scale of “attune to magic items during a rest” to “becoming a lich is a huge undertaking with no way back’?

    • I’m not sure I fully understand the question. The giants of the Sulat League were accomplished magebreeders; they created the drow from elf stock and created what have since become the fire giants we know today (likely involving drawing on the energies of Fernia, yes). This was likely an extended, generational process and I don’t imagine there was any way back. On the other hand, I think it’s quite likely that the TITANS were created through a process more like becoming a lich—that the Emperor Cul’sir began as something like an Eldritch Giant and achieved a sort of apotheosis to BECOME a titan… and that this power wasn’t something that could be simply based on to children. So you had the eldritch/storm giants as the core race, with the titans as their ascended leaders.

  3. Are the half-giants a result of magebreeding or some sort of result of the curses like the hill giants?

    Are they actually “half” anything or are they simply the smallest giants? Are ogres and trolls (and fomorians, etc depending on sourcebooks) actually related to the giants in the ways they are in other settings (was Borunan an outpost of the Empires?) or are they simply parallel creatures with similar traits (size, strength, ferocity) but different origins (Khyber or some such)?

  4. The way I’ve presented Dragonmarks in my game is that they’re kind of like jigsaw puzzles. Every member of every Dragonmarked race has a few of pieces of this puzzle inside their “genes” (I use that term loosely here because Dragonmarks are magic and don’t work on any real life scientific genetics). If someone’s heritage manages to assemble all the necessary pieces, they get a Dragonmark. If the pieces are all assembled properly, but come from different puzzles, they get an aberrant mark. Sometimes magic could also “corrupt” some puzzle pieces, turning them into pieces from a different puzzle, and thus creating aberrant marks in races that only have one mark to begin with.

    Two parents with the same true mark is more likely to produce a child with a true mark because all the puzzle pieces are there. Two parents with different true marks are more likely to produce a child with an aberrant mark because you’re trying to complete a puzzle with mixed pieces. Similarly, two parents with aberrant marks are more likely to produce a child with a mixed mark, because the pieces you start with are already mixed up.

    Is that a reasonable way to look at Dragonmarks? I had a House Vadalis genealogist propose this theory and my players loved the analogy. The idea is mainly that there really is no cosmic difference between true and aberrant marks; they’re just different permutations of the same magical components, seeded into young races either as an experiment by some powerful faction, or naturally occurring as a manifestation of the prophecy.

    • This is certainly a reasonable way to look at things and might well be a theory someone is advancing in the world. Is it true? Who can say.

      The main thing I’d call out is that in my opinion, aberrant marks are more than just “flawed” true marks. They CAN appear in anyone, even in a bloodline that has never shown any form of dragonmark in the past. And their defining feature is their uniqueness; even in an example of marks within a bloodline, the child of a man with a deadly touch develops the ability to commune with vermin. It’s not that he has a “deadly touch” puzzle piece, but she somehow got a “vermin speech” puzzle piece from elsewhere in her ancestry… it’s that if an aberrant mark does appear, there’s absolutely no way to know what form it could take. And that’s the risk in passing it on; your child could end up with a remarkable gift or a crippling curse.

      • In my proposed theory, unmarked people have puzzle pieces, but not a complete puzzle. Both true and aberrant marks are complete puzzles without any pieces missing, but only the true marks have all the right pieces in the right places. Aberrant marks are made of pieces from several different puzzles, so even if everything fits, the picture won’t look right. If we have 12 puzzles with corresponding pieces (eg. the top left corner of any puzzle fits the top left corner of any other), there are only 12 ways to make correct puzzles, but nearly countless ways to mix them up and make wrong ones. Statistically you’re highly unlikely to end up with two wrong puzzles that are exactly the same, even when you’re picking pieces from the same two correct puzzles. Hence every two aberrant individual is different.

        Say we have a Medani procreating with a Deneith, and for each position in the puzzle we roll a d%, say 1-45 they have the Detection piece, 46-90 they have the Sentinel piece, and 91-100 they have neither. Their children would certainly end up with vastly different puzzle configurations, and are far more likely to be unmarked (ie the puzzle is missing a few pieces) or aberrant, than bear either parents’ mark. That’s also why Dragonmarks don’t follow any laws of real world genetics. Individual “genes” (the puzzle pieces) don’t do anything. Only the complete picture does something, and any two configurations, no matter how similar, produce wildly different results.

        Also, I just realized…this theory was proposed by a Vadalis scion, someone that’s invested in the legitimacy of true Dragonmarks. Even if he tries to be scientific and objective in his analysis, he would still naturally use a biased analogy that assumes aberrant marks are just flawed versions of true marks!

  5. My general understanding is that the Aurum represents an ascendant merchant class that chafes at both Nations’ and the Houses’ powers – Something which puts them at least somewhat into alignment with Tarkanan. How do you think they would align and how would they conflict?

  6. Sharn’s population is given as 211,850. This seem rather low given its size and Eberron’s pseudo industrialized nature (For comparison, by 1650 London and Osaka had around that while Kyoto and Edo/Tokyo had nearly double). Is this a result of war depopulation, the census not counting the underclass, large population of transients, a combination of these or something else?

    Speaking of war depopulation, what percent of the population was mobilized during the Last War? This is one of the big differences in “modern” war. Rome could only do 6% for a short while at its height, but the world powers in the first World War (aside form Russia) mobilized double digits, some even hitting 20%.

  7. Have you had anyone want to run a Gnoll in a 5e Eberron game yet, and if so what did you use? (Kobold Press Gnolls, your ownhomebrew, etc)

    Also, what do you think would be a good quick homebrew for things like the Argentum, a Thranish Archer-Paladin, etc? Should I just buy Morgraves for this stuff?

    • Speaking of Gnolls – they have received a substantial fluff rewrite, much like some other 5e iconic monsters like giants (ordning taken from Forgotten Realms), ghouls and orcs. Some of it is very good, but how could you integrate it in Eberron? In particular I’d like to hear about the giants and ordning, elven concept of reincarnation and Blessing of Corellon or the nightmares being transformed unicorns.

      • Eberron don’t reincarnate nor do they believe in it. All souls end up in Dolurrh as a form of purgatory, and nobody really knows what happens after. I think the only exceptions are the undead and devotees of the Silver Flame. Pretty much every elven religion is focused on extending life in the material plane.

        Like in the Forgotten Realms, Eberron elves are descended from the fey, specifically the Eladrin of Thelanis. Makes sense to keep the Blessing of Corellon as is, as a rare form of fey atavism exhibited by elves. Just give them a different name (I don’t know who the Archfey of Eberron are).

      • I’m not the right person to answer that question, because I’m not a scholar of the Forgotten Realms; I didn’t know what the Ordning was until I googled it. As others have said, the idea of Elven reincarnation would completely undermine the religions of the Undying Court and the Tairnadal. But I’m sure there are people on the r/Eberron Reddit board or the associated Discord who’d have ideas for you.

    • For an archer-paladin, I don’t see why one wouldn’t simply allow paladins in Eberron to pick the Archery Fighting Style at level 2, with basically no other changes. It isn’t as though the Paladin and Fighter versions of the feature are any different aside from Paladins being two options short, after all.

  8. Thank you Keith! Fascinating stuff! House Tarkanan really intrigues me; I’ve wondered about creating a sort of X-Men answer to Tarkanan’s Brotherhood. Is there anything like this in the setting already?

    • No, in canon Tarkanan is the only organization tied to Aberrant dragonmarks. With that said, I’ll not that the Brotherhood isn’t a perfect analogy. At least in its early incarnation, the Brotherhood sought to enforce mutant supremacy over humanity. House Tarkanan has no quarrel with regular humans; it feuds with the Dragonmarked Houses, in part because the houses nearly exterminated their ancestors. While they sell their services as criminals, in part that’s because House propaganda has driven them into the shadows.

      If you bring the Son of Khyber into the mix, he’s certainly more of a Magneto figure driving Tarkanan to dramatic and violent action. But under Thora, Tarkanan is more concerned with survival; they are mercenaries as opposed to terrorists. With that said, they are certainly CRIMINALS and there’s room for an organization of aberrants that seeks to perform virtuous acts to win the favor of the common people. I’m just saying that the members of House Tarkanan are more ruthless pragmatists than supervillains.

      • Ah, thank you for the response!

        That makes a lot of sense, and I’m glad to hear that they’re not exactly The Brotherhood. It seems that they’re the only option for a lot of Aberrant marked in Sharn.

  9. Excellent article as always. Thanks for keeping up the stream of content.

    What happens if a mark is only partially damaged or removed? Some, particularly large, marks might not have room to fully reappear.

    Your discussion of House Tarkanan raises a different question. What do people generally think of the various Marked houses? Do people (or perhaps just warforged) resent Cannith as warmongers while still buying from Cannith businesses? Are they so woven into the fabric of life people don’t really notice them besides a sort of nebulous awareness that they licences a lot of businesses?

    • What happens if a mark is only partially damaged or removed? Some, particularly large, marks might not have room to fully reappear.

      Nothing happens. The mark on the skin is simply a cosmetic manifestation of the power within you. If there literally isn’t enough space on your body for the mark, that doesn’t change the fact that the power is still within you.

      Your discussion of House Tarkanan raises a different question. What do people generally think of the various Marked houses?

      The houses play the role that Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google, etc play in our world, only more so — because in our world antitrust laws act to limits these forces, while Galifar allowed the houses to gain monopolistic power over their spheres of industry. So the houses are largely just a basic part of life. Sure, there are people who curse Cannith for war profiteering, but what’s the alternative? If you don’t like Ghallanda, don’t go to the Gold Dragon Inn… on the other hand, if you ton’t go to an inn with the black dog on its sign, you’re probably going to pay too much and end up getting food poisoning. Your call!

  10. I love the idea from your previous post of making the yuan-ti more applicable to the here and now of the world (in Q’Barra) rather than being ancient far-removed threats (in Syrkarn, Argonnessen and Xen’Drik).

    As someone above already noted the yuan-ti can be replaced with lizardfolk in Xen’drik fairly easily (so that answers my first question) but if you were going to NOT simply use ancient yuan-ti in Syrkarn, what would you replace them with in the fall of Khunan and the subsequent haunting of the ruins? What theme is Syrkarn the Fiendish Overlord moving along? Would it be something that plays into the separation and lack of unity in Syrkarn among the nomads? Or is it part of the reason the Syrks are culturally prone to aggressive posturing rather than violence, a demon that gains power when conflict occurs?

    The other overlords are beautifully realized in how they affect the areas around them and I’m just wondering what a better “monster threat” would be in Syrkarn?

    I am aware that ultimately the answer is up to me in my own game, but other than “do what you feel” or “just use the yuan-ti” what would you say works?

    • I’m running a campaign set in Syrkarn, which as you just noted can be challenging because there is really very little development of the place. I’ve elected to go with an overlord associated with unbinding, breaking of chains, etc, which sounds almost like a good thing until you realize society is basically held together by a series of written and implicit promises we keep with each other so if you unbind everything your end result is basically chaos. I think an overlord associated with the extreme end of freedom might go a long way towards explaining the fierce individualism of Syrkarn and why it is made up mostly of fueding tribes. And can you imagine how much Rierda would hate a powerful agent of chaos like that.

      As for the Yuan-ti, I haven’t finalized my plans yet but I’m learning towards making them Shulassakar who were basically stripped of their duty to the Silver Flame and transformed in the process. Some Yuan-ti embraced this change and the ability to seek power it gave them, others did not. This the yuan-ti can be to be both villains and positive NPCs therefore giving me the moral grey area I love so much about Eberron.

      • Thank you for replying! Your answer was a lot more thought out than most of the responses I’ve received on this so far

        Loving the extreme chaos and the erosion of any and all bonds leading to the far end of freedom (isolation, which Syrkarn provides a lot of stark scenery that feeds that)

        Rierda’s interference in Syrkarn I mostly take at face value (let the rebels run there, keep the groups isolated, and focus on other places) but there might be an Edgewalker/Thousand Eyes joint effort (which is good for eventual rebellion within Rierda) that is looking into the influence of the fiendish overlord.

        On the subject of yuan-ti I personally again like the idea of changing them to be used in Q’barra (which is conveniently near the one area of Shulassakar involvement in Khorvaire) still. In Secrets of Sarlona the yuan-ti are grey anyways, being written as more neutral aligned than the ones in Xen’Drik (implying evil was something they learned on their exodus).

        The two monsters I managed to come up with (sticking to monstrous humanoids as yuan-ti are also that, and wanting to avoid aberrations as they are the province of the Daelkyr) were the Kopru and the Yak Folk. Yak Folk especially serve the idea of driving groups apart as though they are slavers (as are kopru and yuan-ti) their nature is to possess and infiltrate, and their mystical skills might lead to the question “are they the result of a Khunan mystical ritual?”. Neither the slimy lamprey Kopru or the Yak Folk necessarily work in the same environment as Yuan-ti (forests) but shifting the ruins to mountains or simply allow underground water starts to facilitate them

  11. How does Complete Divine’s Ur-Priest work flavor wise in Eberron? The default is that they steal a bit of divine power from multiple deities, which doesn’t work with Eberron’s handling of divine powers.

    • Divine power sources definitely exist. In some cases they are known: the Undying Court, the Silver Flame. In the case of the Sovereigns, there’s no question that clerics draw power from a divine power source; it’s just unknown if those power sources are sentient entities.

      So an Ur-Priest could still be stealing power from divine power sources.

  12. Would Tarkanan accept an excoriated (or otherwise an enemy of the houses) bearer of a true mark?

    • Would Tarkanan accept an excoriated (or otherwise an enemy of the houses) bearer of a true mark?
      It depends on the individual (both the individual Tarkanan and the excoriate). in general I think they’d be willing to WORK with excoriates, sure. But few would consider them to be equals in their suffering. The excoriate may have been severed from their house, but they aren’t shunned by normal people. Their mark has never been a curse to them. So they could certain consider an excoriate to be an ally, but it would take a truly exceptional excoriate to be inducted into the organization.

  13. Is the magic of aberrant (and true) marks arcane, divine or primal? What do druids think of aberrant (and true) marks?
    As far as I remember dragons decided not to interfere too directly with lesser races because of dragonmarks. Do they care of aberrant marks too? If so, why didn’t they do anything to protect them during war of mark?
    Finally: is there any hypothesis for dragonmarks not developing in sarlona?

    • Is the magic of aberrant (and true) marks arcane, divine or primal?
      None of the above, just like a harpy’s song or medusa’s gaze isn’t “arcane magic.” Arcane, divine, and primal describe different ways for people to channel magic. Inherent supernatural abilities are simply inherent.

      What do druids think of aberrant (and true) marks?
      I don’t believe that most of the orders have strong feelings one way or another. Both forms of dragonmark develop as innate abilities, like the blink dog’s gift. The Ashbound hate the ways in which the houses use their marks, but they don’t consider the dragonmarked themselves to be unnatural.

      As far as I remember dragons decided not to interfere too directly with lesser races because of dragonmarks. Do they care of aberrant marks too? If so, why didn’t they do anything to protect them during war of mark?
      Your basic assumption is incorrect; consider that Argonnessen helped the Undying Court eradicate the Mark of Death. Dragons generally don’t interact with lesser creatures a) because doing so can have terrible consequences in the long term, such as when they taught magic to the dragons; b) because extending their power across the world makes them vulnerable to corruption by the Daughter of Khyber; c) because they simply don’t care. Beyond that, they are driven by their studies of the Prophecy. The fact that they destroyed the Mark of Death suggests that they were pursuing a path of the Prophecy that encompassed it; the fact that they took no interest in the War of the Mark is could be driven by the same thing.

      Is there any hypothesis for dragonmarks not developing in sarlona?
      No, it’s a mystery.

  14. Oh, I’m late fort his party!

    Hello Keith. It’s a minor point, but I was wondering about it, since I’m running a noir mini-campaign in Sharn’s seedy cliffside districts, with the Tarkanans trying to manufacture a crisis there. The 4th Edition canonically introduced the Son of Khyber, but then apparently 5th Edition rolled that back and we’re back to Thora as the head of the house. Can you tell us what happened?

    • I’m late to respond, so we’re late all around.

      As we are delving deeper into Boromar and Daask, I chose to revert to the 3.5 foundation of Tarkanan as a purely criminal organization, to establish a baseline. My novel The Son of Khyber is set in 999 YK, and I prefer it as a new development–having the Son of Khyber as an outside force that radicalizes the organization.

      In a sense, 4E was close enough on the heels of 3.5 that it made sense to do something new with the organization. Now that it’s being introduced to an audience that may well know nothing about it, I preferred to go back to the baseline, keeping the Son of Khyber as something that could be reintroduced in the future.

  15. How would the Forgotten Realms’s Song Dragons (all female dragons that reproduce with humanoid men.) work in Eberron? Even for something as magical as dragons I can’t see their origin being entirely natural.

    • The Chamber is supposed to have shapechanged draconic agents hidden across Khorvaire. I don’t know about the idea of them reproducing with humanoid males, but if you drop that aspect, everything else about them works fine as deep-cover Chamber agents.

  16. Spellthief (CA) can steal SLAs (e.g., Dragonmark uses). Do you think Tarkanan has any affinity for this? Would a group of Tarkanan thugs keeping a kindnaped scion around and whacking him with a sap (or keeping them unconscious to make them “willing”) to provide black market house services be in character for them? Would a physical effect on the market (like disappearing/fading away till uses are restored) be appropriate?

  17. Can a Warforged have an aberrant dragonmark? If so, how would this come about? I have a player that is a Warforged Artificer named Lucky, and he wanted his character to be the last Warforged made in Cyre before the Mourning. He is planning on taking the Aberrant Dragonmark Feat, and wants to see if this is possible. I’ll allow it, I’ve actually built it into his backstory, (his character had a House Cannith artificer near him when he was being created, and his dragonmark was semi-transfered to the Warforged because of the energy from the Mourning, I’m making a half-Cannith, half-aberrant dragonmark feat that will be created after he takes this feat, instead of the Aberrant Dragonmark Feat.)
    So, again, can Warforged have aberrant dragonmarks, if they can, what might cause it, and does my plan seem feasible?

    • Aberrant dragonmarks are entirely unpredictable, and there is a warforged with an aberrant dragonmark in the novel The Son of Khyber (though it’s certainly seen as very odd by the people around it). So essentially, you don’t NEED a logical explanation because aberrant dragonmarks are inherently illogical. People could attribute it to the Mourning, to the influence of the Traveler, to a Cannith experiment, certainly. But it could also just be that the character has a role to play in the Draconic Prophecy and the mark is a sign of that significance.

  18. I played in an Eberron campaign with a PC who had an Aberrant mark and also using the playtest Mystic rules with an explanation that he had learned to channel the power of his aberrant mark into powerful psionic abilities. When we encountered House House Tarkanan, I surprised the DM by having my PC try and teach his techniques to them and allow them to tap the power of their marks for psionic power. (Ending up becoming a Magneto-like figure to them.) Of course, you could easily do the same thing thing with the Sorcerer class if you don’t want to use psionics.

    It occurs to me that this idea, having the members of House Tarkannan learn how to tap into the power of their marks to achieve powers commonly available only to higher level PC classes, works from both directions. As antagonists it could quickly expand their menace, especially if they are being tutored by one of Eberron’s supernatural evils. Or if played more sympathetically, it’s a way of giving them the power to potentially fight off everyone who would like to see them destroyed. Have you played out any similar ideas with aberrant marks?

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