Sidebar: Making History

My new book Exploring Eberron is available now on the DM’s Guild. You can find a FAQ about it here. I am currently working on a long article about the Nobility of Khorvaire. This will examine the role of the nobility in Galifar and how this evolved over the course of the Last War and into the present day—writing about what it means to be noble in Khorvaire. However, I’m not going to delve too deeply into the history of Galifar, and one thing I certainly won’t do is provide a complete list of the historical rulers of Galifar; I thought I’d take a moment to explain why.

Creating history is a potential rabbit hole for any worldbuilder. You may have noticed that Eberron: Rising From The Last War barely addresses history before the Last War. In writing Exploring Eberron I wanted to fill in this gap for people who weren’t familiar with the older sourcebooks, and ExE includes a discussion of the Age of Demons, Age of Giants, and Age of Monsters, along with a broad timeline for the modern age. But these are brief overviews, and each section includes an important question: Why does this matter? What about this period of time can drive an adventure or add an interesting element to a player character’s backstory? This is a question I ask myself anytime I’m adding lore to the world. Can I think of three ways that this could inspire or impact a story? Can I think of a reason why a player—or character—would want to know this piece of information?

Beyond the simple point of not wanting to waste time on information that no one has a use for, I also don’t want to overcrowd the world with facts that may end up getting in the way of stories I want to tell. Imagine that I’m running a campaign, and I want the players to have to track down a long-lost artifact—the Codex Ourelonastrix, a book said to have been written by the Sovereign Aureon. One of the adventurers is a Lore bard with proficiency in History, and I start the session by revealing the following information…

The last known owner of the Codex Ourelonastrix was Queen Marala, who ruled Galifar during the fifth century. Marala was known as ‘the Hand of Aureon’ and expanded the schools of Galifar and the Arcane Congress. According to stories, she built a hidden sanctum—an ‘invisible tower’ that held her personal library. The Codex Ourelonastrix hasn’t been seen since Marala’s death, and her library vault has never been found… until now.”

Marala and her invisible tower (which I’m imagining to be an extradimensional space, like a magnificent mansion) didn’t exist until five minutes ago. They exist now because they serve the story: I can introduce a secret library that contain the lost literary treasures of the kingdom. Moving forward, I can expand on Marala and her role in the history of Galifar, and this will be interesting to the players because they have context for Marala. If I introduce her as a lich or preserved as a spirit idol, that’s going to be interesting… but it’s interesting because of their personal experience.

The flip side is that the last thing I want is for a player to say “Fifth century? Well, actually, Five Nations says that King Borotox and King Gorman were the rulers of Galifar in the fifth century, and that they were both illiterate.” The existence of Borotox and Gorman doesn’t help the story I want to tell; it’s just a random piece of canon lore that I never read, and now it’s in the way of my story. As it is, we know that Galifar HAD queens and kings, but because they AREN’T concretely listed out, nothing’s stopping me from creating one that perfectly fits the needs of my story. Likewise, note that I just said Marala “ruled Galifar during the fifth century.” I don’t need to know that her rule began in 435 YK when she took over from King Drego II and ended when she died in her sleep on 4 Olarune 468 YK… and if I DO need to know these things, I can make them up, like I just did. We’re talking about events that occurred hundreds of years ago, to a character who didn’t exist yesterday. If I NEED specifics I can create them; but odds are good that it will never actually matter when she was coronated, and if it DOES matter, it’s useful to have the freedom to create the date that best suits the needs of the campaign.

As an example of this in practice, let’s look at the War of the Mark. We know that the war took place “approximately 1,500 years ago.” But we don’t know exactly when it began, how long it lasted, or or the precise date it ended. We know the names of some of the major figures, but not all of them! We know about the destruction of Sharn, but not the exact date. Page 178 of Rising From The Last War describes ‘The Lady’s Day’, a holiday that commemorates the Lady of the Plague unleashing her death curse on Sharn with plague drills. But it doesn’t actually give the date of the celebration! If you LIKE the idea of the Lady’s Day and want to use it in your current campaign, then congratulations, it’s happening tomorrow. Because what we don’t want is for you to say “This is perfect for my story! Oh, wait, it’s on 5 Rhaan, and that’s six months from now. Never mind.” There’s no reason that it HAS to be on a specific date. I want you to tell ME when the Lady’s Day is celebrated—and then to make a note of that, and use that in your campaign going forward. Likewise, if you want to add a new aberrant champion who fought a campaign in Thaliost during the War of the Mark, go ahead! The history we’ve provided is an overview, not an absolute battle-by-battle account of the war.

Now: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t or can’t create history or set specific dates. In Sharn: City of Towers we say that the Glass Tower was destroyed on 9 Olarune 918 YK. Sharn: City of Towers also includes a list of holidays and special events with concrete dates. Because it can help to have a framework of history that can inspire DMs looking for story ideas… “Hmm, it’s Olarune, does anything interesting happen in Olarune?” It’s the same as how we tell you about SOME of the overlords and SOME of the daelkyr—but we also say that there’s more of them and that we’re never going to give a complete list. I’m never going to give an absolute list of all of the rulers of Galifar. But what I AM going to do as a Patreon-exclusive bonus to the Nobility article is to provide a list of some of my FAVORITE rulers of Galifar… people like Marala, who might inspire a story. Just like we’ve told you about Rak Tulkhesh and Sul Khatesh but not ALL the overlords, I’ll tell you about a few interesting rulers, but I’m not going to lock them all down.

So Exploring Eberron includes a timeline of the modern age that includes a number of interesting dates and events. But I’m not going to create a 200-page History of Galifar that breaks things down in detail, year-by-year. Instead, what Exploring Eberron includes is a table of ideas for Untold History. I’ll let that section speak for itself…

Galifar stood for almost a thousand years before collapsing into the Last War. This section has highlighted some particular moments in history that can be used as inspiration for adventure. But both in this book and in the wider canon of Eberron lore, there are vast stretches of time that remain largely undeveloped.

Within your campaign—whether as player or Dungeon Master—feel free to develop and explore additional moments of history if they enhance the stories you want to tell. The Untold History table provides a starting point for ideas. As a Dungeon Master, this can be a way to add depth to a story. Have the players arrived at a currently unremarkable inn? Perhaps two hundred years ago, that inn was the headquarters of an alliance of peasants that rose up against the monarchy, only to be brutally suppressed—and they still don’t think much of characters with the noble background! Or in developing a character, perhaps one of your ancestors was a wizard who made an important arcane breakthrough—only to have it covered up by the dragonmarked houses.

The crucial point is that established history is a place to start, nothing more. Use the ideas presented here when they can help you. But always feel empowered to expand the world and develop the history of your Eberron, even if it may not match official sourcebooks that come out in the future.

Exploring Eberron, page 13

A key point here is that LOCAL history can be far more important than GLOBAL history. Imagine I’m looking to add a twist to the adventure I planned. Using the ExE Untold History table, I might come up with A brutal battle connected to the Eldeen Druids which was never explained. At some point in the past, there was a bitter battle between druids, and even the locals don’t know why it happened. Here’s just a few ways I could spin out that hook…

  • Purely Cosmetic. There’s a field just beyond the village that is filled with unusual crimson flowers. The locals say that the flowers sprouted where the blood of the druids fell on the field. With a good Intelligence (Investigation) check, players might be able to find a few goodberries growing amid the blood-blossoms.
  • Character Hook. If one of the characters has a connection to a druidic sect, they could have a vision when they enter the field. The battle wasn’t between druids; it was that the druids fought a dangerous foe and the villagers never even knew of the threat. Perhaps the field contains a portal to Khyber, and it’s about to open again.
  • Explanation for Threat. No one knows why the druids fought, but the magics they used had a lasting effect on the region. There are dire or horrid beasts in the region, and one of them is on a rampage…

These are just a few quick ideas. Perhaps there’s an awakened tree left behind who knows the story! The hook can be even more interesting if the region is far from the Eldeen Reaches—how did the druids reach the area? Is there a hidden sect still here? The point is that this ISN’T reflected in the grand scope of history. This isn’t a reflection of a bitter druidic civil war that took place in 734 YK; it’s just a curious piece of local history, something that can add color or an unexpected twist to local history.

If you had to rewrite some parts of Eberron, would you have kept specific dates like the destruction of the Glass Tower more vague? These specific dates seem to clash with your overall design philosophy of leaving specifics up to the GM/players to decide.

It’s a good question. To me, it comes back to the overlords and the daelkyr. I don’t mind providing SOME specifics, because many DMs like having concrete things to work with. If we just said “There’s thirty overlords out there, but we aren’t going to tell you about ANY of them” then we’re imposing a lot of work on a DM to use them in any way. By providing a number of overlords as concrete examples, we both allow the DM to use something quickly when they need it and to show what WE think overlords are like; but we still leave lots of room for you to create your own, rather than providing an absolute list of THESE ARE ALL OF THE OVERLORDS. It’s the same with history. It’s absolutely fine to provide a range of concrete dates and events, because many DMs WILL find those useful and inspiring. I don’t mind providing names, details, and even dates for SOME of the rulers of Galifar. But I don’t want to establish an ABSOLUTE, COMPLETE list of ALL rulers and dates.

So I don’t mind the Glass Tower as a specific date in the past, in part because that specific date really doesn’t matter; it’s not like it’s likely to break a story. On the other hand, a date I DO regret having absolutely established is the date of the Race of Eight Winds, because that’s DEFINITELY an event that as a DM, I want to have happen when I want it to happen; I don’t want to have to say “I was going to do a cool thing with the Race of Eight Winds, but it’s actually six months away.”

So again, I’m not against ANY specifics; I’m just saying that not everything NEEDS to be specific.

With that said, if we were starting from absolute scratch, the main thing I would do is to reduce the OVERALL SCOPE OF HISTORY. There’s a tendency in fantasy fiction—in part because of long-lived beings such as elves — to make use of VAST SPANS OF TIME without really thinking it through. Galifar lasted A THOUSAND YEARS mainly because it sounds more dramatic than “Galifar lasted for 345 years” or “Galifar lasted for 245 years before splitting into two kingdoms for 30 years, after which it reunited but under a council of five princes for a century, and was finally restored to a single ruler for a decade before the Last War.” Shrinking some of the scale of the modern age would allow the colonization of Khorvaire to have a little more of a concrete impact. Beyond that, the fact that the Daelkyr incursion canonically happened NINE THOUSAND YEARS AGO is kind of crazy in terms of having it logically impact the present day. Part of the point of the Uul Dhakaan is to explain HOW the heirs of Dhakaan could maintain their culture over thousands of years. But even so, I’ll say that I tend to blur that number. It’s a little like the population numbers in the ECS, which really don’t make sense. I don’t worry about the precise numbers because THEY DON’T MATTER. What matters is that I have a sense of the relative populations of Breland and Aundair, or of Fairhaven and Sharn. I know that Aundair has the smallest population of the Five Nations, and that’s what I need for my story. Likewise, I know that the Dhakaani Empire fell before humanity came to Khorvaire; I’m not going to dwell too much on the idea that the Dhakaani empire is substantially older than Sumer, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t affect my story; what matters is that it’s OLD.

Since you brought up the population numbers, how about the cartography? The map in Rising not only clearly lacks the requisite number of towns and villages but seems to have a lack of rail lines and rivers.

It’s the same principle as the overlords. The map in Rising is a starting point. It mentions a number of cities, a number of rivers, a number of roads. It’s a place to begin, set of cities we all know and use together. But it was never supposed to be comprehensive. Consider that New York state has 62 cities and 932 towns. Even if we could squeeze that much detail into, say, Aundair, what would be the point? What are you going to do with 932 towns? Consider that even with the small number of communities we have, we still haven’t had time to, say, give a detailed description of Atur. We only present a few because you only need a few to serve the needs of most stories and because the more we mention, the less space we have to actually describe them in any level of detail. But you can assume that there are hundreds of farming villages spread across Aundair and the Eldeen Reaches. If you want to add a city in Breland, add it! Likewise, there DEFINITELY aren’t enough rivers and rails, which is a consequence of not showing all the towns that are on them. So again, it’s like the overlords. We’ve told you about SOME of the cities, and that gives you things you can use immediately and a model for what a Thrane/Brelish/Karrnathi town is like. But it’s not supposed to be comprehensive or realistic, because a truly realistic map would bury us in unnecessary details.

My next article is going to be a lightning round IFAQ addressing questions from my Patreon supporters, followed by the Nobility of Khorvaire. Thanks to my patrons for making this possible, and to all of you who’ve picked up Exploring Eberron!

41 thoughts on “Sidebar: Making History

  1. Yes, I’d like to know more about Borotox the Papyrus Prince and the Crusade of Weeping Ink please XD

  2. If you had to rewrite some parts of Eberron, would you have kept specific dates like the destruction of the Glass Tower more vague? These specific dates seem to clash with your overall design philosophy of leaving specifics up to the GM/players to decide.

  3. You’ve written two big city sourcebooks – Sharn and Stormreach – that took very different angles on this issue. What did you learn from each?

    • That’s a very interesting question.

      Remember that all of these books are group efforts and it’s rarely possible for a single author to change the direction of the entire book. So in City of Stormreach, you see my influence in ideas like “We’ll tell you six secrets about the five Storm Lords but we won’t tell you which matches to which.” That’s a reflection of my personal style of design, but I don’t know if it’s consistently reflected throughout Stormreach; it wasn’t a concrete goal of the entire design team.

      Likewise, I’m proud of Sharn: City of Towers. Yes, it does go in a more concrete direction — providing a lot of of specific dates and details. And there are a few of those I’d rather have kept vague (such as the dates of the Race of Eight Winds). But I know that it’s a book that many people have found to be an excellent source of inspiration, and that’s all that really matters.

      So, *I* really like the open approach — six secrets for five Lords… but I also do know that there are times when it is very useful to HAVE some concrete facts. It’s why it’s good to have statistics for Dyrrn the Corruptor and lots of details about Sul Khatesh — but why I don’t mind that we’ve revealed very little about the Wild Heart. Concrete lore isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a matter of not losing sight of the story and of encouraging creativity rather than limiting it.

  4. So, the benefit of being able to create history, is I can run a date through the awesome moon / plane cosmology tool that online, as I draw heavily from this for ideas – what planes were coterminus, what moons were full? Knowing that Olarune was bright the day of The Experiment help a narrative feel more rounded in my mind, so setting an event a year or two earlier means I can tweak them to happen on particular Great Conjuctions.

    • Certainly! My counterpoint is that I prefer to say that if I WANT there to be a big conjunction of Daanvi and Mabar for purposes of my story, I’ll just DECIDE that there is; I don’t want to be LIMITED by the established lore telling me that the next time that will happen is 500 years from now. So it’s a toss up: having a lot of concretely established time and dates can INSPIRE a story when you don’t have ideas, but it can also get into the way of a story if you HAVE a specific idea that contradicts the established lore.

      • Yeah I like how in ExE some of the cycles are given but their relationship to 998 YK isn’t, plus the implication that the Orrery model doesn’t actual capture all their movement has some juicy side effects.

        • Exactly right. I LOVE coterminous and remote phases. What I don’t like is having the core book tell me “… But that’s not going to actually happen for another ten years.”

          • I have taken to having lesser periods of coterminous or remote planes, and giving the moons an erratic orbit which is predictable in world (to sages and farmers who buy “Lyrandar’s Almanac”) but in practice can be determined randomly or conveniently.

            For the planes in particular, I like the fixed schedules; but I maintain continuity throughout my games, and (for instance) I have established that Thelanis last ceased to be coterminous in 997. So I made a mechanism for for myself to allow lesser cylces.

    • That tool is a godsend. I love the whole movement of the planes and moons thing with Eberron, but I also want to be consistent with it, and this tool so perfectly tracks all of it.

  5. I made something alike, a drifting magical tower cut from a magical fortress, lost from Daanvi with strong knowledge, drifting between planes and falling on a random place, just in the coast of my players at Qbarra.

    What mysteries could you find there before it sink to the deep sea?

    Also a way to introduce real clockwork stuff to improve your warforged characters, my son make a big loot on there sith warforged winds, tutors and else improving his character, also lots of books with strong lawful magic.

    • Past WotC authors have associated Eston, the headquarters of House Cannith in Cyre, with clockwork

        • Wasn’t Wolfgang Bauer the one who wrote all the clockwork wonders articles for the adventure hooks articles in 3.5?

          • Oh, perhaps! I just know that I wrote the article about Eston (which is the foundation of the Eston entry in RFtLW).

  6. Great stuff! I’m always a little torn between this approach and having comprehensive details. On one hand, I love that Eberron doesn’t keep a detailed lore history that’s constantly expanding and is specifically set up for DMs to answer questions about the world and fill stuff in. Eberron the setting set particularly for just after the Last War, and the canon material doesn’t really progress forward from there, and adjusts as needed. It doesn’t carry the long history baggage that the evolution of the Forgotten Realms does, or them basically making cataclysms to deal with changes in editions. With Eberron you don’t often have to worry about new canon history past the current present date coming along to change what is happening in the setting.

    On the other hand, I do love getting into all the little details that most people overlook and rarely matter.

    I definitely have some ideas for various games now. I also really need to find an Eberron game I don’t have to run at some point.

    • I love small details as well. I love Queen Marala’s invisible library and the field of bloody flowers that’s risen from the spilled blood of the Gatekeepers. But I also don’t need those things to be absolute and frozen in place. As I said, as a Patreon bonus to the Nobility article I’m going to provide a few examples of rulers of Galifar you COULD use if they inspire story ideas, but I prefer that to “Here’s an absolute list of 40 kings.” I understand a desire for INSPIRATION… I just don’t want lore to become a burden.

      • Ya, I get that, and I don’t want to see that approach changed for Eberron either. I appreciate Eberron to be a game setting purposefully not set in stone, like no canon explanation for the Mourning. While I do like expanding progressing canon in things (I’m also of big fan of Magic: the Gathering lore/story), I think for a setting that is intended to be a RPG setting first, this approach is best.

        I look forward to stuff you have coming on the Khorvaire nobility.

  7. Excellent as always.
    Quick question regarding the history of magic in Khorvaire. I know you’ve stated that magic has developed and become more widespread. What did early magic look like? How would magic have been used during the campaigns of Galifar I?

    • This is a subject I’d like to explore in more detail and one I’ve touched on in a few other posts, but it’s far too deep a topic to address here. The key point is that yes, when Galifar I established his kingdom, arcane magic was quite different than it is today, and I’d love to explore that idea more fully in a future article.

  8. This made a strong impression on me. It’s the difference between creating a world for a novel or series of novels by a single author, who should fill in as much detain as they like, versus creating for a shared universe like Wild Cards, or a game setting, where you want a framework, but want to leave the subsequent authors/GMs room to maneuver.
    For example, reading the ExE section on Dhakaan, I had the tought: What if there had been a SEVENTH king of the Dar, who rejected Dhakaan’s Dream? As a result, he and his people were erased from the shared Dream and actively forgotten by all the Dhakaani. Did he and his people flee tothe Demon Wastes? To another continent? To another plane? They’d be a radically different Dar civilization by now but no one knows about them until the PCs discover an obscure clue, or stumble on them. What secrets do they hold? How will the Kech Dhakaani react if they find out? Does the Lost Kingdom of the Dar know about what happened to Dhakaan? Could it be that a vengeful descendant of the Seventh King was the ole who invited the daelkyr to Eberron in the first place??
    Blank sections of history are like blank spaces on the map, with nothing but “Here be dragons” written on them – the imagination can run wild! Thanks, keith!

  9. Once again the take away seems to be “do what is best for the story” and I have to say that’s the right way to think when it comes to world design. I’ve seen a lot of people come into Eberron fan spaces and ask “why isn’t this setting like Faerun?” and it never fails to confuse me. Faerun is Faerun and Greyhawk is Greyhawk and (insert canon setting) is (insert canon setting). And Eberron is Eberron. The themes of each of these settings are WILDLY different even if the mechanics for running it are the same.

    You would hopefully not bring an Eberron character to a Greyhawk game and vice-versa (though I admit the settings aren’t exclusive and can support content from each other as 3.5’s kitchen sink of rulebooks proved in the online forum community)

    A common phrase I find myself repeating to my players after showing them the lore of Eberron is “remember, the most important thing is that your character is going to change everything”, that the year 1000 in Khorvire is going to see the PCs have affected real change, whatever that is (a Daelkyr invasion, the Church of Silver Flame losing their leadership, the discovery of a perfectly preserved Metrol within Mabar’s endless night) and that no matter what came before the PCs are a new age of heroes who will stand at the forefront of the millennium to come

    • Even the two worlds that are technically part of the same campaign setting, Gothic Earth and the Demiplanes of Dread, are fundementally different.

  10. This fits in nicely with my overly permissive view of canon, where if something contradicts then figuring out the why of it makes for a more interesting story to me personally. I appreciate your benchmarking approach to history and think it fosters a lot of creativity at the table! Thanks for explaining your thought process!

  11. Excellent article Keith!

    But sometimes I think that would not make any harm have more specific information about a specific kind of detail: place. Even if be just a suggestion.

    For instance, I would love know “kanon” place of all Kechs. Some don’t have in ExE. I know, you can say “use which you want in the place you want”, but sometimes a DM likes to read about a place and all things on it.

    Korth I think is example of it. Reading Five Nations looks like there is a Kech there and I imagine that you could say that any Kech that don’t have a place can be the one there. Yes, I understand this… but in someway I don’t like so much. I agreed in almost 100% of the cases with your way, but I really feel that about place is good have one canonical. It is not the biggest and rational argument and I can be wrong about this, but I feel sometimes that if you not put things in a place, is more hard be use. If you campaign is not about Kech, is hard you use a landless Kech than if it have a kanon or canon place and your campaign will pass in this place.

    I know that this can be answer in a lot of ways and maybe it is just me, but I like that all things have his place. Even if I can change (and I sometimes change a lot). Ok, don’t do all Overlords, to use another examples, I agreed with this, but I like have a suggestion about the place of all that exist.

    But this can be the way that I make campaigns. One major step is read about the place and I fear that things without a place can be underused.

  12. Since you brought up the population numbers, how about the cartography? The map in Rising not only clearly lacks the requisite number of towns and villages but seems to have a lack of rail lines and rivers.

  13. Great work. I appreciate that you give us a lot of wiggle room. Sometimes I feel like Forgotten Realms has written me into a corner as a DM.

  14. Great books Mr Baker, picked up ExE on the release date. Have been reading the pdf, but anxiously awaiting the printed copy (because a HC is SO MUCH BETTER).
    I’m loving all the additional fluff, the level of depth is enough to point a DM in a direction but leaves room to “create the path”. Keep up the awesome work!

  15. Wait wait wait!

    You mention in your article missing towns and rail lines… It was obvious that one needed to add towns and farming communities on the map because it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to have Sharn and Wroat separated by 300 miles of empty countryside. I much prefer imagining a lot of small communities cultivating rice in terrace build toward the Dagger… BUT I never imagined the lightning rails could extend further than the one on the map. It is such an asset for House Orien that I figured the map was showing them all (including the small remaining parts of line in Mournland). “Too bad, there is no line between Sterngate and Mistmarch, you’ll have to walk, lads”. That, and the fact that the lighting rail shedule work from Korranberg to Sharn if they don’t stop outside of the main stops. It gave me the wrong impression of very few stations along the line. Was your vision that of tens of stations between Wroat and Starilaskur, only served by local trains, while the main stations on the map are the “express stops” ?

    I like your idea of letting details in the vague and I find myself a fool for not having understood it for the lightning rail for some reason.

    • Yeah, the routes shown for the lightning rail are weirdly sparse.

      The lightning rail has been in operation for almost 200 years. In my mind it’s supposed to be the primary method of long distance freight transportation, as established as rail travel was in the USA in, say, 1890 (when there were 18,000 locomotives in operation!). It definitely makes sense that there are small towns that aren’t on the rail, but it’s strange to me to think that there are major cities without a connection — notably that Trolanport in Zilargo has no rail (I could make up a weird reason why this is the case, but IMO if you can get a trade road there, you could get a rail there).

      Another example: in the first 3.5 adventure, Shadows Of The Last War, the adventurers take the lightning rail from Sharn to Rhukaan Draal. Small problem: by the map, there IS no rail to Rhukaan Draal. Huh.

      So PERSONALLY, I would definitely expand the operations of the lightning rail… but you could stick with the map if you WANT to keep it limited. Your idea that the lines on the map are express trains but there are other local trains seems like a fine explanation to me!

      • I always figured Orien simply lacked the marked operators needed to make the Lightning Rail quite as omnipresent as trains were. The weirdest ommision to me in Eberron’s cartography is the lack of bridges over the Dagger River. Travelers have to take the LONG way around or get on a boat. This one is really weird because of Five Nations’ Galethspyre’s section implies pretty clearly there isn’t an unseen one. The picture of the pre-war dated White Arch Bridge (which I note cleary has the remains of metal reinforcements within the stone, a major innovation in construction) in the same book makes it clear it’s not a technological limit (unless MAYBE it’s a ship clearance thing).

        • I always figured Orien simply lacked the marked operators needed to make the Lightning Rail quite as omnipresent as trains were.

          That’s a reasonable explanation, but again, the paths shown on the map are far more limited than I’d expect even with a relatively limited number of heirs. Sivis has message stone operators in most towns, after all! Again, in Shadows From The Last War it was simply assumed that there’s a rail that runs to Rhukaan Draal (and the original module presumed that there were other rails throughout southern Cyre that had been abandoned when it became Darguun — that there was a rail running to Rose Quarry). So for me, it’s definitely that the map lacks detail.

          The weirdest ommision to me in Eberron’s cartography is the lack of bridges over the Dagger River.

          Yeah, to me that’s likewise an obvious omission. Note that in the Aberrant Champions article I wrote a little while ago I said that Halas Tarkanan’s power first manifested when he was on a bridge over the Dagger. It’s deeply implausible that a society that could build Sharn (centuries ago!) wouldn’t have bridges over the Dagger. Essentially, I use the maps as a starting point, but not as ab absolute source of truth or a substitute for common sense.

    • Putting small towns on the lightning rail line also would be in keeping with how some frontier towns cropped up in the American West.

      • Absolutely! Which is likewise why I say there’s more rivers than are shown on the map, as they also support the spread of civilization.

  16. Hi Keith! Excellent article as always!

    I notice that this is focused on Kings and Queens, anyway. I would love to ask you more about the role of nobility. What does it mean to be a Duke or a Baron? Is Eberron a feudal society in which a Duke is more important than the king in his own land? Or is it more a honour? Can a noble easily marry a non-noble? Can somebody BECOME a noble and, in this case, will he be accepted as a noble by other nobles? Are nobles countryside powers like in middle age or concentrated in the capital city, near the king, like in 1600 France or 1700 Russia?

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