The night hags of Eberron are mysterious and enigmatic. The Princess Aundair asserted that night hags were fallen fey cast out of Thelanis; it was likewise Aundair who popularized the idea that night hags created nightmares by ripping the wings off of pegasi. The scholars of Galifar debunked both of these ideas, and established that night hags are native fiends of Eberron that have existed since the Age of Demons. But many questions remain unanswered. If night hags are fiends, why do they seem to have no sympathy for raksashas or other native fiends? How is it that on the one hand you have Sora Kell, who’s described as tearing apart armies with her talons and laying waste to a city with a single spell… and on the other, you have stories describing night hags who seem little more powerful than a typical troll? And if the night hags are native fiends, why do they have such an affinity for dreams and a talent for traveling to other planes?
The most reliable source on the topic is the Codex of All Mysteries, written by Dorius Alyre ir’Korran. The Codex makes the following observations.
Thirteen hags emerged in the First Night, old on their first day; they were called grandmothers even before the first mortal was born. Twelve of these night hags were bound in covens of three; even then, Sora Kell made her own path. Most fiends are tied to one of the dread overlords, and it would be easy to think that the first hags were children of Sul Khatesh, given their affinity for both secrets and magic. But there is no overlord in the First Night. Rather, it seems that the twelve and one collectively embody an idea. Many fiends embody concepts that mortals fear, and the simplest answer is that the night hags embody mortal fears of the night—both specifically of nightmares, but also of the unknown forces lurking in the darkness. The accounts of Jhazaal Dhakaan add a twist to this, suggesting that the night hags embody the curiosity of Khyber itself. Jhazaal observes that the night hags should be considered evil, as they will lead mortals into despair and doom without remorse. But she notes that the hags lack the greater malevolence of the overlords, that they have no desire to dominate mortals or the world; instead, they love to watch stories unfold, especially stories that end in tragedy. In the first days to the world, the night hags served as intermediaries between mortals, fiends, and the other great powers of reality. They took no sides in the many wars of that time, finding joy in moving stories along and watching the horrors that unfolded; they had no agenda, for this story needed no finger on the scales to tilt it toward disaster. The hags simply loved being in the midst of the chaos, and reveled in turning the pages of history.
Should we accept these stories, a night hag is many things at once. She is a shaper of nightmares, who takes joy in hand-crafting nocturnal visions so terrifying that a mortal might fear to ever sleep again. She is an ancient being who may have spoken with dragons, demons, and even overlords. And above all, she is a creature who delights in watching stories unfold and in seeing what happens next—especially when those tales end in tragedy.
What of the curious spectrum between night hags? How can we reconcile the legend of Sora Kell shattering an army with the tale of Sola the Smith outwrestling Sora Tenya? How can we account for the fact that a catalogue of night hags produces more than thirteen names? The answer may be found in another Dhakaani account. The dirge singer Uula Korkala blamed the hag Sora Ghazra for the tragedy that befell her city, and rallied the greatest champions of the age to her pursuit of vengeance. She worked with the legendary hunter Ur’taarka to track the hag and to create snares that could bind even the greatest of fiends. She worked with the daashors to enchant the chain of the mighty Guul’daask, creating a weapon that would shatter the hag’s spirit even as it crushed her bones. Korkala took her vengeance, and Sora Ghazra was defeated. But it is no simple thing to kill an immortal. The shards of Ghazra’s shattered spirit embedded themselves in her killers. Ur’taarka, Guul’daask, even Korkala herself—all were haunted by nightmares. Unable to sleep, they wasted away in body and mind. Eventually the magic of this curse reshaped them into hags—lesser versions of the primal crone they’d destroyed. This created a line of night hags, each bearing this curse. When any one of them dies, the killers will be consumed by nightmares. The curse grows weaker with each generation, and there are heroes who have survived this gauntlet of nightmares; but any who are broken by these terrors will become a weaker hag. Thus, should you encounter a night hag who seems not to live up to the terrifying legend of Sora Kell, she is likely one of Ghazra’s line; the threat she poses will depend on how far removed she is from her ancestor.
Dorius Alyre ir’Korran is a legendary scholar and diviner, known for his ambition to supplant Aureon himself; the Codex is the most trusted source of information on the hags. The actual entry includes far more information than just this, providing further details on many of the original thirteen hags and their covens. However, it is as always up to the DM to decide if any of this is true, or if it is still speculation or even misinformation spread by the hags themselves.
If you trust the Codex, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Night hags can have a vast range of power. The Challenge 5 night hag presented in fifth edition is likely a weak descendent of Sora Ghazra. Sora Kell was the most powerful of the primal night hags—the one who always stood alone—and likely has a Challenge rating over 20. Other hags—between the other primal hags and the greater descendants of Sora Ghazra—would fall somewhere within that spectrum. Because of Ghazra’s story, there’s no absolute limit on the number of night hags in the world. There may have only been thirteen primal night hags, but the extent of Ghazra’s brood is entirely up to the DM. The lesser hags of Ghazra’s brood DO NOT retain many memories of the hag that spawned them; they have a basic foundation, but a CR 5 hag doesn’t have memories of the Age of Demons and doesn’t retain all the contacts and connections of their parent hag.
Night hags largely view mortals as a form of entertainment. They typically have a cruel sense of humor, and they take joy in hand-crafting nightmares for people who catch their interest. Many of them do enjoy testing virtuous heroes and seeing if they can hold to their ideals. But at the end of the day, most are driven by cruel curiosity; if a hero DOES persevere and overcome adversity, they’ll chuckle and move on, making a note to check back in a few decades. They don’t CARE about the goals of the overlords or the Chamber; they just love good stories. The night hag Jabra sells goods in both Droaam and the Immeasurable Market of Syrania. Her goods won’t necessarily bring misfortune to the buyer; among other things, she sells dreams she’s collected over the centuries. But SOME of her goods are certainly bound to bring tragedy to someone, if not necessarily the person who purchases them. And more than anything, her work as a merchant is a way to while away the immortal hours while she waits for someone interesting to cross her path—a story she can delight in following to its end.
Night hags wield power in Dal Quor, as measured by their ability to manipulate dreams. They have an understanding with the quori; remember, the primal night hags once served as ambassadors to all the great powers, and they can be persuasive when they choose. Night hags can smell the touch of a quori on a mortal’s dream, and they will thus avoid interfering with dreamers who play critical roles in the plans of the Dreaming Dark. Beyond this, Dal Quor is vast; night hags and quori generally do their best to stay out of each others’ way. With that said, there have been stories of friendships, rivalries, and feuds between specific quori and night hags; a particular tsucora and a child of Ghazra might take turns tormenting a particular mortal, each trying to craft the most terrifying dream.
Night hags have a particular affinity for dreams and Dal Quor. For a night hag, shaping a dream is like playing an instrument; it’s both art and a satisfying hobby. A night hag doesn’t HAVE to have some grand agenda in deciding to haunt a particular mortal, any more than a writer has some specific vendetta against the sheet of paper they select on which to write a story. On the other hand, they may well focus on people who draw their attention. In Droaam, Jabra has been known to buy peoples’ dreams. The simple fact is that she can haunt someone’s dreams whether they agree to it or not; but Jabra enjoys convincing a victim to agree to their torment.
Primal night hags are immortal and have existed since the dawn of time. If slain, they will reform in the demiplane known as the First Night. Ghazra’s brood can be killed, at which point they infect their killers with their nightmare curse. Each such generation grows weaker, and it’s possible that the CR 5 night hag of the Monster Manual is simply too far removed from the source to curse its killers… or it might be that they have only to enduring a single nightmare or a few nights to overcome the curse.
Primal night hags don’t require a heartstone to become ethereal. A heartstone is a focusing item that allows one of Ghazra’s brood to tap into this power, concentrating their weaker spirit.
With all that in mind, let’s consider a few specific questions.
The ECS says that Night Hags are neutral, but here you say they’re evil. Which is it?
Many ideas in the ECS have evolved over time. When I wrote that original section in the ECS, the intent was to emphasize that the night hags aren’t allied with the Lords of Dust and the overlords—that they are, ultimately, neutral. However, in retrospect, I feel that they should both be fiends and should have an evil alignment. They were born in Khyber, and on a personal level, they delight in tragedies and will unleash nightmares without remorse. We’ve called out that good people can do evil things and that evil people can do good; in the case of the night hags, they are evil beings who choose not to serve a greater good or greater evil.
The immortals of Eberron draw from a finite pool of energy and don’t reproduce. But Sora Kell has daughters, and there’s also hagblood characters. How’s this work?
Night hags can reproduce, but this doesn’t follow normal biological science and most never do. Essentially, what a night hag does in creating a child is much like how they create a nightmare; each of the Daughters of Sora Kell are, essentially, nightmares made real. It’s quite likely that the hag has to invest a certain amount of her own essence in her children, not unlike the story of Sora Ghazra. If so, Sora Kell is likely no longer as powerful as she once was, and this could explain why she’s been missing for so long.
Sora Ghazra’s children are created when a sliver of her spirit reshapes a mortal body. The weaker the are, the more mortal they are; the least of these hags might be able to have children in the normal way, though these children wouldn’t be night hags.
Night hags can trap mortal souls in soul bags. Why do they want mortal souls?
Trapping souls is hardly unheard of in Eberron. Sora Maenya isn’t a night hag, but she’s known for trapping the souls of her victims in their skulls and keeping them. She doesn’t DO anything with them; she just likes collecting them. Sora Teraza traps souls in books, cataloguing the life of the subject. This is the model for night hags. Some may bind captured souls into objects, keeping a collection of soul-bound dolls, for example. Others may weave the souls into acts of magic. For example…
What’s the origin of nightmares (the monsters) in Eberron? Do they have a connection to night hags?
Nightmares are fiends that protect their riders from fire and allow them to travel between the planes. The first nightmares were created by Sora Azhara, a primal night hag with a particular love of Fernia. She crafted the first nightmares by fusing literal nightmares with the ashes of the Demon Wastes and mortal souls. A few of her sisters admired her creations, delighting in their ability to carry mortals into dangerous places, and created nightmares of their own. Any creature capable of casting nightmare could potentially learn the ritual for creating a nightmare. This requires a bound mortal soul slain by nightmares; ashes from the Demon Waste; and a living equine creature, which serves as the physical framework. This is the origin of the tortured pegasus story—but the victim doesn’t have to be a pegasus. A creature who’s soul is bound into a nightmare can’t be raised from the dead by any means until the nightmare is destroyed; the soul is however preserved from Dolurrh while bound. Typically, the mortal spirit is unconscious and oblivious to the passage of time during this binding.
What does it mean that the primal night hags serve as ambassadors? If there were thirteen of them, did they have ties to specific planes?
“Ambassador” isn’t an official title. Night hags are capable of moving across planes, something that’s uncomfortable for most native immortals. Essentially, they spend a lot of time traveling—they are in part driven by curiosity—and they know people. The dragons and fiends of the Age of Demons found it useful to have a recognized neutral force, and the night hags enjoyed being a part of the story. This continues today. The night hag Jabra knows thousands of immortals through the time she’s spent at the Immeasurable Market. A random lesser night hag may know a number of quori—some friends, some rivals. Sora Azhara has a love of Fernia and is a regular guest at the parties of the efreet. But this is ultimately an informal role, more “I know a hag who knows a guy” than being officially appointed by the Progenitors or anything like that.
That’s all for now! Thank you to my Patreon supporters both for making these articles possible and for suggesting the topic; in my monthly call for questions, someone asked “Night Hags! Just Night Hags!“… So here we are! If you want to have a chance to shape future topics and help insure that there are more articles, pitch in at my Patreon.
Also: I am continuing to work on Frontiers of Eberron: Threshold, and TONIGHT (Wednesday September 8th) I’m kicking off a new stream to playtest the material. It’s part of the Fugue State stream, which I play in with Colin Meloy and Chris Funk of the Decemberists, Charlie Chu of Oni Press, Han Duong, and Jennifer Kretchmer. It’s going to run for about six weeks and the first episode is TONIGHT, so if you want to see it kick off, drop by the Twogether Studios Twitch channel at 7:30 PM Pacific Time! This is a very casual stream—basically just our home game in action—but I’m sure it will be fun!
Every month, my Patreon supporters select a topic for a major Eberron article. This month’s choice was the plane of Dolurrh. Additional information about Dolurrh and all of the planes of Eberron is coming soon inExploring Eberron!
Endless caverns stretch throughout Dolurrh, bleak passages of gray stone. Wherever you go, shadowy figures reach towards you, imploring, but you feel only the faintest chill as their insubstantial fingers pass through you. Mist pools around your feet, and as you press forward you realize this swirling mist is moaning. This is no natural phenomenon; these are the remnants of souls who have forgotten their original form. This is Dolurrh, where mortal souls go after their bodies die, where memories fade and lives are forgotten.
Mortal spirits are drawn to Dolurrh within moments of death, and their memories begin to decay immediately. Within days, most spirits no longer have any desire to leave Dolurrh; within weeks, most only have the faintest memories of their previous lives. The faiths of Aerenal and the Blood of Vol assert that Dolurrh is the absolute end of existence, the last echoes of a life before it is gone completely. But when Dorius Alyre ir’Korran drew his classic planar map he used the octogram symbol of the Sovereign Host to represent Dolurrh, because he declared it to be the door through which all mortals must pass to join with the Sovereigns. This has come to be a common view: what appears to be memory fading is actually the soul slowly ascending to a higher form of existence, rising to a level of reality no mortal can experience. The vassals of the Sovereign Host say the faithful finally join the Sovereigns; followers of the Silver Flame say that noble souls strengthen the Flame. What is left behind is a husk—the cast-off remnants, like an abandoned snakeskin or the traces of memory that can be read using speak with dead. Thus, while Dolurrh has long been known as the Realm of the Dead, there are many who call it The Gateway. Ultimately, this is a matter of faith. Whether the other side of Dolurrh is oblivion or paradise, no one ever returns from it.
All living creatures will come to Dolurrh, sooner or
later. Those that come here before death are almost always looking for
something: a lost soul, a forgotten memory. But living or dead, any who come to
Dolurrh can be trapped by its power.
Everything about Dolurrh is gray and gloomy. Even the
brightest colors seem faded, the most joyful sounds seem dull. The heavy weight
weight of ennui settles on travelers the moment they arrive, making even the
simplest tasks feel challenging. And there is a constant pull, tugging on
memory and emotion, a desire to just sit down and let it all go.
Eternal Ennui. When you enter Dolurrh, you immediately gain one level of ennui (described below). This cannot be removed by rest or any other effect. It is immediately removed when you leave Dolurrh.
Impeded Magic. In order to cast a spell of 1st level or higher in Dolurrh, you must succeed on a spellcasting ability check with a DC equal to 10 + the level of the spell. On a failed check, the spell is not cast and its spell slot is not expended, but the action is lost.
Timeless. Time passes on Dolurrh at the same rate as on Eberron. But creatures on Dolurrh don’t age, and do not need to eat, sleep, or drink. Other natural processes may be delayed, though living creatures can benefit from resting normally and can suffer damage and die.
Inevitable Entrapment. Every time you complete a short or long rest, you must make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw. If you fail, you gain one level of ennui. Each time you make this saving throw, the difficulty increases by 1. If you don’t complete a rest over the course of a 24 hour period, you must make this saving throw at dawn.
the soul-sapping power of Dolurrh. It’s gained in levels, and duplicates the
effects of exhaustion. However, it affects all creatures, including undead and
other creatures immune to exhaustion. Ennui saps motion and memory. When a
creature reaches six levels of ennui, its will is completely broken and it can
take no purposeful action; if this happens to a living creature, its physical
body dies and it becomes a husk bound to Dolurrh. Ennui is separate from
exhaustion, and levels don’t stack. If a creature has both ennui and
exhaustion, use which has more levels to determine the effects.
Undead cannot recover from ennui while in Dolurrh. If a living creature completes a long rest and succeeds on the saving throw against Inevitable Entrapment by 5 or more, they reduce their ennui level by 1. Creatures native to Dolurrh are immune to Eternal Ennui and Inevitable Entrapment, but still have to deal with the effects of Impeded Magic.
DENIZENS OF DOLURRH
The native creatures of Dolurrh are bound to the cycle of transition, and all have some role to serve in this process. Nalfeshnee demons patrol the Catacombs of Dolurrh, dispersing melds and lemures and dealing with mortal intruders; Dolurrhi nalfeshnee appear as large humanoids whose features are shrouded by gray mist. Marut inevitables are more powerful guardians, and are occasionally dispatched to Eberron to intervene with acts of resurrection. No one is sure what triggers this deadly intervention, but Jorasco healers will always cast augury before raising the dead; if the result is “woe” they will refuse the job. Finally, the shadar-kai are servants of the Queen of the Dead, shades granted new life in this form. They serve her in the Vault of Memories and occasionally as her hands on Eberron, though their actions are almost always enigmatic. Other denizens of Dolurrh are unique. The Librarian is found in the Vault of Memories, while the Smith of Souls dwells in the Crucible; both are described later in this section.
The spirits of the dead are omnipresent in Dolurrh. Shades are souls that are freshly arrived in Dolurrh, and maintain a portion of their memory and original appearance. They are insubstantial and can’t interact with material objects. Shades that are overcome by ennui become husks, which have only the vaguest memories of their past lives or awareness of their surroundings. Occasionally a group of husks cluster around one strong memory, forming an ectoplasmic mass called a meld that seeks more memories to consume; these are presented in more detail in Exploring Eberron.
Sometimes a shade clings to a memory with such intensity
that even Dolurrh can’t eradicate it—perhaps a terrible mistake or bitter
grudge. Other memories fade, but the creature lingers as a ghost and can be a danger to mortals. Other forms of undead are
rarely seen in Dolurrh. The entities found here are the spirits of the dead,
either undergoing transition or trapped in the process. Corporeal undead such
as ghouls, skeletons, or zombies have no place here, while undead that hunger
to consume life belong in Mabar.
Memories of joy and happiness do no harm in Dolurrh. But memories of pain, of cruelty, of anger… these don’t fade so easily, and they can hurt others. Even if they don’t trap shades as ghosts, this psychic residue can build up in the gears of the spiritual machinery of Dolurrh. Often it takes the presence of a mortal to trigger it; when this occurs, the lingering pain and hate coalesces into a solid form. The least of these are lemures, which are formed from hateful memories or deeds. The emotional residue of hundreds or thousands of people can form deadly sorrowsworn. In particular, the Last War and the Mourning created a lot of deaths that could fuel manifestations of the Angry and the Lost. When a character is struck by one of the Lingering, they may have a flash of one of the memories or deeds that drive the entity.
The Lingering are formed in Dolurrh and are immune to the
effects of Eternal Ennui and Inevitable Entrapment. However, they are a waste
product, not the desired result. Nalfeshnee, maruts, and other guardians will
destroy the Lingering whenever they are found.
The Queen of the Dead
The Queen of the Dead dwells in the great spire that rises
up above the Vault of Memories. She is the most powerful being in Dolurrh, and
has the ability to pluck shades from the cycle of entrapment and even to grant
them new life. She appears to be an elf woman, robed in silver and black, her
face hidden by a cracked alabaster mask. But little is known about her motives
or her origins. She creates the shadar-kai by housing shades in new bodies. She
saves other souls that she never restores; she preserves them in the Vault of
Memories, saving them from dissolution for unknown reasons. She collects
secrets and memories, plucking her favorites from those gathered by the
Librarian and keeping them in her personal collection. Sometimes she seems to
directly oppose mortal necromancers, especially Lady Illmarrow. At other times
she seems to be interested in killing specific people, perhaps so she can
preserve their spirits or their memories. But such direct action is extremely
rare, remarkable if it occurs more than once in a century; most of the time she
remains silent in Dolurrh, unknown and unknowable.
There are many mysteries about the Queen of the Dead. She
takes the form of an elf and gives her shadar-kai elven bodies, yet she existed
long before the elves. Her actions directly involve the Material Plane, in a way
unusual for the great planar powers. This may simply be tied to her role as
keeper of the gateway; or there may be some greater secret yet to be revealed.
LAYERS OF DOLURRH
Dolurrh is universally gray and gloomy. All layers that have been described in the accounts of explorers have appeared to be underground; no one has ever seen the sky in Dolurrh. Unlike most planes, the layers of Dolurrh don’t embody different ideas; instead, they serve different functions. Dolurrh is a machine for gathering, collecting, and perhaps transitioning souls; all of its layers serve that purpose. Here are four of them.
Tunnels are carved into gray stone. In some places they
are painfully tight; in others they widen into grand halls, with ceilings lost
in the darkness. The dead are everywhere, shades pleading for release and husks
keening in the shadows. Some chambers contain vast wells filled with moaning
mist; in others nalfeshnee herd shades into pens or scrape lemures off the
walls. There is no particular logic to it, just endless tunnels.
The Catacombs may be larger than Khorvaire, or even Eberron.
A mortal could wander forever through these winding tunnels, or at least until
they are consumed by ennui. However, there are junction points that transcend
the logic of distance. If one knows the right symbols to follow, they can cross
the vastness of the Catacombs quickly or pass to other layers.
All the mortals born on Eberron are bound to Dolurrh,
but like spirits are drawn together. The Catacombs holds the spirits of dead
humanoids. The Kennel is similar in appearance, but it contains the shades and
husks of beasts and monstrosities. Here you’ll hear the howls of fading wolf
spirits, and see flocks of spectral birds flying through grand halls… along
with larger and more fierce creatures. Beast spirits rarely linger long in
Dolurrh, as most have fewer memories to erase.
It’s possible that the Queen of the Dead has created special
servants that wander these halls, just as she has made the shadar-kai;
adventurers could be questioned by a clever raven with the soul of a poet. But
nalfeshnee and maruts can be found here as well as in the Catacombs.
In the Crucible, the immortal spirit known as the Smith
of Souls refines the essence of faded spirits and creates things out of this
husksteel. The Smith forges the armor and weapons of the shadar-kai, and
creates the maruts from the husks of brave souls. She also creates smaller and
stranger items from husksteel. This is a comparatively small layer, but it is
still a grand foundry, tended by shadar-kai and guarded by newly-forged maruts.
The Smith wears a mask of black steel and an apron that seems
to be made from dragonhide. When forging maruts she is a giant; when crafting
tiny trinkets she appears to be a gnome. It’s possible that she collects the
memories of mortal artisans, and can replicate their works at her forge.
The Vault of Memories
The heart of Dolurrh is the Vault of Memories. It’s a
tower carved up through gray stone, larger than any of the great towers of
Sharn. The lowest levels are the Library. Here, the spirit known as the
Librarian interviews each shade and makes a record of its life. The power of
the Librarian is such that an entire life can be confined to a single large
page. Every sigil inscribed holds a crucial memory; a character proficient in
Arcana can read the symbol to experience that memory. The many floors of the
library hold countless books of preserved lives, carefully tended by shadar-kai
scribes. The Librarian himself is a massive hooded figure, and his books are
enormous. It’s said that he can be many places at once, which is how he is able
to speak to every shade before it fades.
In the halls above the library, the Queen of the Dead keeps
her many treasures. What seem to be obsidian statues are actually shades, crystallized
to prevent them from fading into husks. Paintings and crystals contain memories
that the Queen has chosen to isolate. Beyond these are countless trinkets and
oddities, items collected by her shadar-kai over the vast scope of history. And
higher still are the chambers of the Queen herself, where she usually sits in
silent contemplation listening to the whispers of the countless shades in her
MANIFESTATIONS OF DOLURRH
Here are a few of the ways Dolurrh can affect the
Manifest zones tied to Dolurrh rarely possess the full
properties of the plane. But they are close to the Realm of the Dead, and that
means they are almost always haunted. Shadows may move in strange ways, and
travelers may hear whispers they can’t quite make out.
Restless spirits yearn to return to the Material
Plane, and it’s easier for them to do so in Dolurrhi zones. Sometimes they
manifest as ghosts. Other times they’ll animate the corpses of people buried in
the zone; these creatures are effectively zombies, but may display unusual
intelligence as they seek to resolve their unfinished business. Raising the
dead can be dangerous in a Dolurrhi zone; there’s a chance that the wrong
spirit will be returned to the body!
While these are negative traits, Dolurrhi zones can
have positive effects. In many zones it is easier to return people from the
dead; you only have to spend half the usual material components when casting
such a spell. In others, anyone can cast speak
with dead as a ritual; this takes an hour to perform, and the caster must
have the corpse they wish to speak with and a personal connection to the
The most dramatic manifest zones are those that serve
as gateways to the Catacombs of Dolurrh. Opening such a gateway might require a
special ritual, a significant sacrifice, an alignment involving the moon Aryth,
or all of the above. It might only work if Dolurrh is coterminous. But under
the right circumstances, you can use the gateway to enter the Realm of the
Dead—and hopefully, to return.
Coterminous and Remote
As with any plane, Dolurrh can become coterminous or
remote when it serves the needs of a story. It has has a slow planar cycle, and
becomes coterminous for a full year once every century. Fifty years after that,
it is remote for a full year. Shorter phases are tied to the movements of the
While Dolurrh is coterminous, it’s easier for ghosts
to slip from the Realm of the Dead into the Material Plane, especially around
Dolurrhi manifest zones. Any form of magic that restores life to the dead can
also serve as a conduit for unwanted spirits.
While Dolurrh is remote, no form of magic that
restores life to the dead—including revivify
or reincarnate—will function. The
only way to restore life to the dead in these times is by directly traveling to
Dolurrh and pulling the shade back to the world. Ghosts are also especially
common in this time. But these aren’t ghosts that return from Dolurrh; rather,
if Dolurrh is remote when people die in the grip of great emotion or with vital
unfinished business, their spirits can more easily resist Dolurrh’s pull.
common types of visitors from Dolurrh have already been discussed. A marut may
show up in response to resurrection. Ghosts may drag their way back into the
world. And the shadar-kai—or other revenant servants of the Queen of the
Dead—may come to the world pursuing her enigmatic missions.
The most common Dolurrhi artifacts are the creations of
the Smith of Shadows. These are formed of husksteel, the fused essence of faded
souls. Depending on the nature of the object, it could be crafted from a single
spirit—a dagger whose edge is forged from a single moment of pain—or from the
emotional residue of multiple husks. Despite the name, husksteel can appear as
dark metal, slick black leather, dark iridescent cloth, or other substances.
In creating a husksteel object, consider the memory or emotion that is the heart of the item. For a magic item, this should reflect its purpose; a husksteel cloak of elvenkind could be formed from a secret. A husksteel variation on a dagger of venom might be formed from a moment of absolute terror; when its power is invoked, the victim struck by the dagger must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or take 2d10 psychic damage and be frightened of the wielder for 1 minute.
Other husksteel items are largely curiosities. Adventurers could find a monocle that shows the last thing seen by a dead man, or a journal containing poems written by a celebrated poet—after they died.
Returning life to the dead is not a reliable service in
Eberron. There are many characters who are capable of casting the necessary
spells, from clerics to adepts of House Jorasco. But just because it can be cast doesn’t mean that it should be cast… or that it will work if
The first and simplest limitation is time. The
longer a spirit remains in Dolurrh, the more it falls under the sway of ennui.
Any spell that returns life to the dead requires the spirit to want to return. Once the shade becomes a
husk, it can no longer make that decision and can’t be raised or reincarnated;
note that most religions maintain that this is because at this point the true soul has moved on to a higher level
of existence; you can’t easily pull someone back from their union with the
Sovereigns. So you only have about a week or two—depending on the strength of
will of the victim—to pull them back. But even before that time, it is quite
possible that the spirit will simply choose not to return. What is it they have
to live for? Is that worth fighting to lulling ennui of Dolurrh?
The second limitation is risk. The appearance of
maruts is extraordinarily rare, but in part that’s because Jorasco knows to
check beforehand and won’t raise someone if there’s a risk. Essentially, the
question is whether this person is supposed
to come back… or if this is, indeed, their time to die. If so, a marut may
appear to challenge the resurrection.
The final risk is the direct intervention of a higher power. It’s said that the Keeper can snatch souls before they reach Dolurrh. It’s up to the DM to decide if there’s any truth to this myth; the story says that such souls must be recovered from the Lair of the Keeper in the Demon Wastes. The Keeper itself may or may not be there, but it’s certainly the abode of a powerful dracolich! Alternatively, the Queen of the Dead can crystallize a shade and prevent it from being restored, or she can catch a spirit that’s about to be restored and set a price on its passage. The flip side of direct intervention is that the Queen of Death—or another power that seems dramatically appropriate, as chosen by the DM—could offer to return a shade to life for a price. This is a way to bring a low-level character who can’t afford resurrection back to life, while adding a hook to their story. This article provides some ideas about the possible cost of a life.
Perhaps your augury warns you of woe. Perhaps Dolurrh is remote. There’s one way you can always bring someone to life: to go to Dolurrh, find their shade, and drag it back out to the Material Plane. All you need to do is to locate a single soul in the endless Catacombs (perhaps with the help of a native guide, the records in the Vault of Memories, or powerful divination magic) and evade the many guardians to return to the world. But if you succeed, the victim receives a new body, just as if you’d cast true resurrection; and while the defenders will try to stop you from leaving, they won’t interfere once you return to Eberron. It is theoretically possible to restore a husk in this way as well, but it won’t restore lost memories. Most resurrected husks are effectively mindless. Some can relearn new skills, though their original memories are forever lost. This is why people don’t try to bring back the Tairnadal ancestors or Galifar I; you could bring a body back, but it’s not the original person in any meaningful way. This is why the Queen of the Dead (and perhaps the Keeper) preserves certain shades from decay—so that it could be possible to restore them, even after centuries.
In the Age of Giants, the Cul’sir Dominion sent an army into
Dolurrh to recover the spirits of a family lost in the Quori Conflict; none
returned. The Queen of the Dead doesn’t care if a shade or two are stolen every
century or even every decade. But her power cannot be contested in Dolurrh, and
thieves who attract her personal attention will find their shades torn from
their bodies in the blink of an eye.
Dolurrh can inspire many simple stories through its
manifest zones or escaped ghosts. A husksteel trinket could provide a flash of
memory that sets the adventurers on a particular path. And finding a way to
rescue a shade from the underworld is always an epic tale. Here’s a few deeper
stories to consider.
The Once and Future Queen of the Dead. The Queen of the Dead is an enigmatic figure who wields great power in Dolurrh. But there’s another being who uses this title: Erandis Vol, the last heir of the Mark of Death. Through her agents in the Order of the Emerald Claw and beyond, Erandis seeks to restore the power of her dragonmark; no one knows what godlike powers she might wield if she unlocks its full potential. Meanwhile, the Queen of the Dead seems to oppose Erandis, and often sends her agents—both shadar-kai and adventurers she’s restored to life at a price—to interfere with Vol’s schemes. This could be exactly what it appears. The Queen of the Dead may despise necromancers, and Vol is seeking to depose her. But perhaps there’s more to it. Time works in strange ways when dealing with the planes and beings of vast power. Perhaps the Queen of the Dead isn’t trying to stop Erandis; perhaps she’s guiding her down a very specific path. Perhaps Erandis will become the Queen of the Dead, in which case, she always will have been her. Or perhaps that’s what’s supposed to happen, but there’s a way in which it could still go wrong… which could destroy the Queen of the Dead and throw Dolurrh itself into chaos.
Agent of Death. After the adventurers kill a nefarious villain, their foe reappears alive and well. This happens time and again. How is the villain escaping from Dolurrh? Are acting as an agent for the Queen of the Dead, or have they simply found a back door to the Realm of the Dead? Either way, what can the adventurers do to lay them to rest once and for all?
Devastating Sorrow. When Dolurrh becomes coterminous, a powerful sorrowsworn emerges and devastates the region. The adventurers may not have the ability to defeat the sorrowsworn in battle, but if they understand the circumstances of its creation—the emotion that drives it and the event that triggered it they might be able to disperse the deadly monster by defusing this emotion.
That’s it for now. Thanks again to my Patreon supporters for choosing the topic!
Eberron has a unique planar cosmology, but Rising From The Last War only scratches the surface of the planes; in this article and the upcoming Exploring Eberron, I’m digging deeper. Thanks to my Patreon supporters, who keep this site going and who chose this topic for my final January article!
LAMANNIA: THE TWILIGHT FOREST
Lamannia embodies primordial nature, untapped and
untamable. It represents the raw power and majesty of the natural world.
Lamannia is often called the Twilight Forest, and depicted as a realm of
colossal trees and massive beasts. However, the forest is just one of the
facets of Lamannia. Every natural environment is represented in Lamannia,
contained in a layer that exemplifies and exaggerates its features. Windswept
desert, raging ocean, endless plains; all can be found in Lamannia.
At first glance, Lamannia appears to overlap with a
number of other planes. How does the Twilight Forest differ from the domain of
the Forest Queen in Thelanis? How does the chill tundra differ from the icy
layers of Risia? Shouldn’t the volcanoes of the Broken Lands be in Fernia?
Well, there are dryads in the trees of the Endless Weald of Thelanis; sprites
hide behind leaves and satyrs dance in the clearings. And in Fernia a blazing
volcano could be home to Azer smiths forging wonders in its depths, or a balor
who delights in unleashing streams of lava to destroy unwary adventurers. In
Fernia, the volcano is a metaphor for industry or destruction. In Lamannia,
it’s a metaphor for volcano. It’s an
iconic, perfect example; it doesn’t need fey
or fiends to make its point, because the volcano itself is the point. The
elementals of Lamannia aren’t the anthropomorphic genies found in Fernia and
Syrania; they are the pure, living essence of the elements, unburdened by any
humanoid desire. Its primary inhabitants are beasts—both beasts that you might
encounter in the wilds of Eberron, and massive creatures that can be seen as
iconic representations of their type: the idealized incarnation of BEAR or
Some scholars assert that Lamannia served as a
blueprint for the material plane, that it was in Lamannia that the Progenitors
perfected the ideas of storm and stone. They believe that the natural world is
infused with the essence of Lamannia—and that druids and others who wield
primal magic actually manipulate that Lamannian essence. Certainly, Lamannia is
charged with primal power; druids who travel to the Twilight Forest can be
overwhelmed by the sheer force of nature that infuses this place.
Lamannia lies close to the world, and it’s one of the
easiest planes to reach. Its treasures are wood and stone—natural object imbued
with elemental power, herbs and plants whose effects are far stronger than
their mortal counterparts. But when you come to Lamannia, you are prey; there
are many predators in this realm, and anyone who seeks to despoil the
embodiment of nature will be hunted.
Lamannia is a reflection of the natural world,
intensified and exaggerated. The air is pure and clean, the water fresh and
clear. Colors are impossibly vivid. It is suffused with life—a realm in which
any stone could be an earth elemental, where any tree could be awakened.
Vegetation is nearly always in bloom and beasts are
almost always in the peak of health. With the exception of layers such as The
Rot, Lamannia reflects the ideal state of the natural world. Here are a few of
the consistent traits of the plane.
Extended primal magic. When you cast a spell that draws on primal magic magic that has a duration of 1 minute or longer, the duration is doubled, to a maximum duration of 24 hours. Typically druids and rangers channel primal magic, but it’s up to the DM to decide in the case of each spellcaster. A paladin that follows the Oath of the Ancients might channel primal magic to cast their spells, while an Aundairian ranger could use arcane techniques.
Indomitable beasts.While in Lamannia, beasts and elementals have a +2 bonus to Constitution and advantage on saving throws against being charmed, frightened, or immobilized. When an elemental or beast first arrives in Lamannia from another plane, any magical effect that is charming it or binding it in any way is broken; this can be disastrous for an elemental airship that’s thrown into the plane.
The land provides. When you make a Wisdom (Survival) check to forage for food or shelter in Lamannia, you have advantage on the roll. The vegetation is bountiful and the land sustaining. It may be difficult to forage in the Broken Land, but you’ll at least have advantage to help you with the roll.
Primordial matter. It is difficult to destroy or contaminate the matter of Lamannia. An ongoing purify food and drink effect cleanses any sorts of poisons or contaminants from beyond the plane. In addition, natural materials such as wood and stone are tougher than their mundane counterparts. When trying to destroy such objects, increase the Armor Class suggested in Chapter 8 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide by 3 and double the hit points of the object.
Most layers of Lamannia follow a traditional
day-night cycle. However, layers aren’t synchronized and likewise don’t match
any time zone in Eberron. There is only one moon in the sky of Lamannia; a
Wisdom (Nature) check with a DC of 10 will identify it as Olarune, though it
appears larger than in the sky of Eberron and is always full.
Denizens of Lamannia
A common story of Lamannia tells of an explorer who
passed through a manifest zone and found herself on a vast mountain peak.
Pushing up the mountain, she was exploring a mysterious thicket when she was
set upon by rats the size of wolves. She fought the rats, but was on the verge
of being overwhelmed… until a giant beak flashed down and snapped up a rat in a
single bite. The wide ‘thicket’ wasn’t natural briar; it was the nest of a
Lamannia is filled with all manner of beasts. Any
natural creature can be found in Lamannia; indeed, some sages assert that the
presence of a creature in Lamannia is what defines it as “natural.” These creatures
fall into the following categories.
animals are identical to their counterparts in Eberron. Any natural
creature can be found in a layer with an appropriate environment. If such
beasts are the first things player characters encounter in a visit to Lamannia,
they might not realize they’ve traveled to another plane.
animals are creatures of remarkable size. Any beast described as ‘giant’ or
‘dire’ can serve in this role. Such creatures are more common than mundane
animals; in the Twilight Forest, most owls are giant owls, and they prey on
giant weasels and rats. While the existing animals are a place to start, any
sort of beast can have a dire counterpart in Lamannia.
are gargantuan beasts. The roc is an example of Lamannian megafauna; those
found in Eberron have been drawn through manifest zones or slipped between
planes during coterminous periods. A megafauna serpent could use the statistics
of a purple worm. These two creatures provide a rough scale of power for
megafauna, but a DM can create a wider range of megafauna; adventurers could be
hounded by a pack of gargantuan wolves. While these creatures are similar in
form to beasts, they are typically classified as monstrosities. Between their
vast size and their connection to the plane, they are immune to most effects
that only target beasts, and you can’t charm a roc with a simple animal friendship spell.
· Totems are beasts that are beyond the tactical scale… creatures that can be measured in miles. The gnome explorer Tasker tells a tale of finding an island in the Endless Ocean that turned out to be an enormous turtle; another of his stories deals with a pack of lycanthropes living in the fur of a massive roaming wolf. Such totems aren’t natural creatures and don’t need to eat or excrete. Their origins and purpose are unsolved mysteries, but most sages believe that they are immortal spirits projected by the plane itself. Some claim that the totems are connected to all creatures cast in their image. Others believe that the totems are sources of primal power, that barbarians, shifters, and druids can receive power and guidance from them. All that is known for sure is that they’re immune to common spells, and to date there are no accounts of anyone successfully harming or communicating with a totem.
For the most part Lamannian beasts are no smarter than their
counterparts on Eberron. However, there are animals that possess intelligence
similar to that granted by the awaken spell.
However, even these beasts generally follow their natural instincts and live wild
lives. While in Sharn giant owls may own shops and run for city council, the
giant owls of Lamannia are content to hunt the beasts of the Twilight Forest.
So it’s possible to find creatures in Lamannia that speak Common or a
Primordial dialect, but most have little interest in long conversations. Also,
don’t forget that dinosaurs are natural beasts! While a megafauna owl is
impressive, the megafauna version of a swordtooth titan (tyrannosaur) is a
sight to see!
After beasts, the most common inhabitants of the plane
are elementals. Genies, mephits, and
anthropomorphic elementals are found on other planes; the inhabitants of
Lamannia are pure and raw in form. These include the standard earth, fire, air,
and water elementals, but they can come in a wide array of sizes and forms.
Adventurers exploring the broken lands could encounter tiny globs of lava
crawling across the land… while the leviathans of the Endless Ocean and the
elder tempests of the First Storm are forces of apocalyptic power. The
elementals of Lamannia are the spirits commonly summoned and bound by the Zil,
used to propel lightning rails and airships. While intelligent, these elementals
are utterly alien. They have little concept of time, and perceive the world
around them though the balance of elements. The sole desire of most elementals
is to express their element: to burn,
to flow, to fly. Many have an antagonistic attitude towards spirits of other
elements, which drives the deadly conflict in the Broken Land. This is another
obstacle in dealing with elementals, as they tend to perceive humanoids as
globs of water. While it’s possible for a character that speaks Primordial to
talk with a Lamannian elemental, it’s usually difficult to establish any sort of
common basis for negotiation. Still, there are legends of wandering druids who
“befriended earth and air;” anything is possible!
The merfolk came to Eberron from Lamannia, and their
ancestors remain in the Endless Ocean. These primordial merfolk are closer to
their elemental roots than their counterparts in the seas of Eberron; while
they are just as intelligent as their cousins, they are driven by primal
instincts. They wield druidic magic, but they don’t craft tools or structures.
This serves as a model for other humanoid natives of Lamannia. Any race with a
strong primal connection could be tied to Lamannia, but natives of Lamannia are
driven by instinct and avoid the trappings of civilization. There could be
tabaxi dwelling in the branches of the Twilight Forest, but if so they will
feel feral and wild.
During the Silver Crusade, a significant number of
lycanthropes made their way or were exiled to Lamannia. While in Lamannia, a
lycanthrope cannot spread the curse to anyone other than their offspring. The
unnatural impulses of the curse—the drive to prey on innocents, the bloodlust
that can cause a victim of lycanthropy to lose control of their actions—are
suspended while they remain on the plane. Primal instincts are amplified;
Lamannian werewolves remain predators and take joy in the hunt. But they aren’t
driven to evil and remain in full
control. Packs and communities of lycanthropes are scattered across the layers.
Most are descended from lycanthropes who fled Eberron to escape both the templars
and the dark power whose corrupting influence led to the crusade; these
shapeshifters embrace their primal nature and rarely assume humanoid forms. But
there are also packs descended from afflicted templars who chose exile over
death, who strive to preserve the beliefs and traditions of their ancestors.
There are bitter feuds between these afflicted templars and the “first wolves”
and other lycanthropes of Lamannia, but the templars can be valuable allies for
There are also a handful of druids and rangers who
have crossed into Lamannia and chosen to remain in this primal paradise. Many
run with lycanthrope packs, embracing their feral instincts and spending their
days in wild shape. Others act as planar shepherds, seeking to minimize the
impact of dangerous manifest zones and to help unwary travelers.
There are no celestials or fiends in Lamannia. It is a
realm of elementals and beasts, and the elementals are alien and untamed. Yet
explorers often report a feeling that they are being watched. And there are times when random events seem to be
guided by an unseen hand. When outsiders have sought to bring industry to bear
in Lamannia, they have been found by megafauna or elder elementals, or struck
by especially vicious turns of weather. It’s possible that this is the work of
the totems—that totems possess omniscience and great influence over their
layers. Or there could be a greater power that watches over the entire plane.
There is a single moon in the sky above every layer, the moon Olarune; some
scholars assert that this is the consciousness that governs the plane. This is
reflected in Eldeen shifter traditions that predate the practices of the
Wardens of the Wood; shifter druids suggest that it was Olarune who created the
shifters, and that the first lycanthropes were her champions. It is up to the
DM to decide if there’s any truth to these tales.
Layers of Lamannia
Like many of the planes, Lamannia is made up of layers—a
connected web of demiplanes, each highlighting a particular aspect of primal
nature. The scope of any single layer is up to the DM as suits the needs of the
story. One layer in Lamannia might contain a single colossal mountain peak; on
the other hand, the Twilight Forest could be as large as Khorvaire itself (or
even Eberron!). The edge of a layer could be an impassable physical barrier, or
it could wrap around onto itself; sail far enough in the Endless Ocean and
you’ll find yourself back where you began.
The layers of Lamannia are connected by physical portals, but
these portals often only allow travel in one direction. Any deep pool of water
may connect a layer to the Endless Ocean; but while you can get to the Ocean by
diving into a pond in the Twilight Forest, but there’s no gate back to the
Forest on the other side. The Endless Ocean contains small islands; people who
explore these islands will find they have moved to a new layer.
The Twilight Forest
The sky is hidden by the dense canopy of this vast
rainforest, leaving the forest floor in an endless twilight. The trees are over
a hundred feet in height—impressive, certainly, but not as tall as the
greatpines of the Towering Wood in the Eldeen Reches. But as people explore the
Twilight Forest, they will come upon strange ridges and walls of wood. Some
come together, forming twisted wooden canyons. Following these, explorers will
find that they are the roots of truly colossal trees, vast titans wider and
taller than the towers of Sharn. The Twilight Forest as mortals experience it
lies in the shadow of the grander canopy that rises far above it, and these
mighty trees are home to megafauna and mightier beings.
The Twilight Forest is wild and untamed. However,
explorers can find wide tracks through the lower forest. Survival experts may
recognize that these aren’t tracks formed by humanoid hands; rather, they are
the paths of totems, who have crushed the lesser forest beneath their colossal
feet. The Forest is filled with beasts; mundane and dire creatures in the lower
forests, megafauna in the grand canopy above it, and the occasional passage of
totems. There are multiple communities of lycanthropes scattered throughout the
lower forest. A clan of wererats have carved out a warren in the roots of a
colossal tree, while a pack of wild wereboars feuds with werewolves descended
from exiled templars. An ancient elf druid named Haral, who spends most of her
time in the form of an owl, does her best to maintain order; she is assisted in
this by a megafauna owl she calls Ruark. However, the Twilight Forest is larger
than the Eldeen Reaches; these are just a few examples of the inhabitants of
Another noteworthy area is the Graveyard. Of all of
the layers, the Twilight Forest is closest to Eberron. There are many manifest
zones between the Twilight Forest and the material plane, and when the planes
are coterminous it’s possible for people—or objects—to pass through. The region
known as the Graveyard contains a number of manifest zones that are tied to the
oceans of Eberron, and to the air above them—and over the course of thousands
of years, they have caught a number of ships in their net. The focal point of
these manifest zones are dozens of feet above the ground. First of all, this
means that it’s not easy for stranded travelers to find their way back; second,
this means that ships fall when they
pass through, causing damage and often killing many of the travelers. So the
Graveyard contains the wrecks of ships from many eras—an ancient Aereni
galleon, a Lhazaar vessel, a recently lost Lyrandar airship. This provides an
opportunity to introduce outside influences to the Twilight Forest, or to have
forgotten treasures hidden in Lamannia. A Dhakaani vessel holds a priceless and
powerful artifact long sought by all of the Heirs of Dhakaan… but the vessel was
infected by spawn of the Daelkyr, and these have carved out a foul warren
beneath the ship.
Elementals don’t have an especially strong presence
in the Twilight Forest, but they are still present throughout it. A gust of
wind, a pool of water, a rolling stone—in Lamannia, any of these things could
The Broken Land
The Broken Land is a volcanically active region filled
with high mountains and lava plains. There are constant eruptions, and the
layer is home to many fire and earth elementals, who engage in an ongoing
environmental conflict. Fire elementals flow out with the lava as volcanoes
erupt; earth elementals work to contain the eruptions and to rebuild the
shattered peaks, only to have them erupt again. Few beasts manage to thrive in
this layer, but there are some tough dinosaurs who’ve clawed out a niche. While
this region has fewer connections to Eberron than the Twilight Forest, it’s
also possible to find shipwrecks or remnants of other travelers here; it’s
certainly a harsh and deadly landscape for adventurers who are stranded here or
those who must recover a lost relic from this place.
The Endless Ocean
This layer reflects the majesty of the ocean depths. It
is home to a vast array of fish and aquatic beasts, along with merfolk tribes
and a wide range of water elementals… from simple sentient currents and weirds
all the way to massive leviathans. Megafauna battles are common, and this is
the source of the tale of the island that turned out to be a totem turtle. True
islands are few and far between, and most are actually portals to other layers
of Lamannia. There are many manifest zones spread across the Endless Ocean,
almost all of which connect to the ocean depths of Eberron.
The First Storm
A layer of plains and low hills, this region is
permanently lashed by hurricane winds and endless storms. Beasts huddle in
caves and the limited shelter, while all manner of elementals clash in the
storm-lashed plains. A massive elder tempest drives the heart of the storm;
during the Sundering of Sarlona, an apocalyptic cult in Ohr Kaluun sought to
bring this elemental to Eberron, believing it would destroy the world.
Decay is part of nature, and this is reflected in the
Rot. This relatively small layer is swamplike, filled with fallen, rotting
trees. There are corpses of megafauna beasts scattered around the layer, and
giant insects and other massive scavengers prey on their remains. There’s a
community of wererats thriving in the Rot, and there could be a small outpost
of the Children of Winter who found there way here. While this is a symbol of
death and decay, it is entirely natural; the undead have no place here. It’s
possible a necromancer could arrive here, hoping to animate the massive
corpses; however, this would violate the theme of the plane, and if there is
any higher power at work in Lamannia it would direct forces to counter this. While
most layers of Lamannia are free from disease, disease is itself part of
nature; a manifest zone tied to the Rot could spread plagues into the surrounding
Lamannia is filled with precious natural resources; it’s
hardly surprising that an advanced civilization would try to harvest them.
During the Age of Giants, the Cul’sir Dominion set up a research station and
mining camp in a layer of Lamannia. After a decade struggling against megafauna
attacks and elemental-enhanced weather, the outpost was finally overwhelmed and
abandoned. It is a testament to the arcane engineering of the giants that
anything remains of this structure… although it may be that it remains because
the ruin itself has become a symbol of nature-reclaiming-civilization, becoming
the theme of the layer. Vines and moss cover shattered walls, and the bones of
giants are scattered throughout the remnants of this garrison. Valuable and
powerful treasures may well be hidden in the Folly, but explorers will have to
contend with aggressive elementals, dangerous beasts, and traps left by the
long-dead giants themselves.
These are just a handful of the many layers of Lamannia.
In developing a layer, think of a distinctive natural feature—a canyon; a
desert; a lone mountain—and build the layer around it. What creatures would be
found there? Have any outsiders taken up residence? Is there an unusual role
for elementals? How does it connect to other layers, or to Eberron?
Manifestations of Lamanna
There are many ways for Lamannia to influence an
adventure even if the player characters never leave the material plane.
Lamannia is a prolific source of manifest zones. Quite
often manifest zones are found at the heart of a region that resembles the
connected layer: zones tied to the Endless Ocean are found underwater, while
manifest zones tied to the Twilight Forest can be found in the Towering Woods, the
King’s Forest, and other vast woodlands. However, it’s also possible to find
Lamannian zones in areas with no obvious connection to the layer—such as the
aquatic zones tied to the Twilight Forest that produce the Graveyard. Here’s a
few of the common effects of Lamannian manifest zones.
Elemental Power. Manifest zones tied to Lamannia may have strong elemental resonance. When spells that summon elementals are cast in such a region, they’re treated as if they were cast at a level one higher than the spell slot that was expended. There are a number of these zones in Zilargo, and House Cannith and the Twelve are eager to find unclaimed zones. However, there are risks associated with them. Elementals may spontaneously manifest in such places; sometimes they linger for a long time (a pool tied to Lamannia could be inhabited by water weirds), but often they only linger for a few hours and then dissipate. Passing through such a zone can also impart a surge of power to an existing elemental; this can potentially allow a bound elemental to break free from its bonds.
Gateways. A manifest zone can serve as a direct portal between Lamannia and Eberron. Typical such portals only open under certain circumstances—often when the planes are coterminous, but the requirements could be even more restricted (for example, when the planes are coterminous and Olarune is full). Such gateways can allow adventurers to travel to Lamannia, but they can also be the source of hostile elementals or deadly megafauna. Rising From The Last War suggests the idea that what appears to be a ring of standing stones could be a group of slumbering earth elementals stranded in such a gateway.
Growth. A common effect of a Lamannian manifest zone is to enhance the growth of plants or beasts in the region around it. This is less about fertility (which is commonly associated with Irian) and more about the size and health of the beast. Animals are often drawn to such zones. House Vadalis is always searching for manifest zones with this trait, and many Vadalis enclaves are built in these zones.
Purity. Vegetation and water in such a zone are healthy and pure, as if constantly affected by purify food and drink. Such zones can be a valuable resource for small communities. Such regions may also manifest the ‘primordial matter’ described earlier; stone and wood may be unusually tough. The prison of Dreadhold is built in such a manifest zone; not only is the stone of the region denser than usual, it cannot be penetrated by scrying or teleportation.
Resistance. While Lamannian manifest zones can be useful tools for communities or dragonmarked houses, some zones actively resist and repel civilization. As noted in Rising From The Last War, weather, vegetation, and a rapid rate of decay can combine to quickly destroy structures built in the zone and overgrow the ruins.
These effects aren’t mutually exclusive; a manifest
zone could have both the growth and resistance traits, and also become a
gateway under specific circumstances. Zones can also have very specific effects;
notably, the elemental power trait is often tied to a specific element. The
weird-haunted pool enhances water elementals, but doesn’t help if you’re trying
to summon fire elementals.
COTERMINOUS AND REMOTE
Lamannia has a swift planar cycle. It is reliably
coterminous for a week around around the summer solstice, and remote for a week
during the winter solstice; it can also become coterminous at other times,
often related to the lunar cycle of Olarune.
While Lamannia is coterminous, the effects of Lamannian
manifest zones are enhanced. In regions of unspoiled nature—such as the Eldeen
Reaches, the wilds of Q’barra—fertility of both plants and animals is enhanced,
and beasts conceived in these periods are often exceptionally strong and
healthy. Primal spells that affect beasts or elementals are extended; if a
spell has a duration of 1 minute or longer, the duration is doubled, to a
maximum duration of 24 hours.
While Lamannia is remote, fertility rates drop and
beasts born in these periods are often weak or sickly. Beast are often uneasy,
and the duration of any primal spell that affect beasts or elementals is cut in
half, to a minimum duration of one round.
The inhabitants of Lamannia rarely choose to travel to
Eberron. Those few civilized creatures—lycanthropes, merfolk—are content in
their primal realm and generally only cross over by accident. However,
accidental visitors can be a source of trouble or adventure. A powerful
elemental or a megafauna beast can pose a deadly threat to a region. Megafauna
creatures can become local legends; imagine a Vadalis expedition seeking a
legendary megafauna ape (which, if captured, might break free while on
exhibition and climb the towers of Sharn!). There’s no records of a totem beast
ever passing through to Eberron, and it’s possible that they cannot manifest
Lamannia vegetation is prized by alchemists. Herbs and
roots from Lamannia can produce exceptionally strong potions, and many types of
Lamannian vegetation have innate magical effects; there are bushes in the
Twilight Forest that naturally produce goodberries.
Lamannian lumber likewise can have unusual traits, mirroring the densewood and
bronzewood found in Aerenal. Lamannian wood and stone can serve as powerful
focuses for primal magic, for creating figurines
of wondrous power, or for tools designed to summon or bind elementals.
Lamannia is a source of elementals and dire beasts. It
is wild and untamed, strengthening primal magic and providing a haven to
lycanthropes. It resists any intrusion by civilization. Here’s a few ideas for
working it into your story.
Land. When a party of
adventurers unknowingly pass through a gateway, they must find a way to survive
in this wild realm. This could be as simple as finding another manifest zone to
take them home… or it could require them to survive in Lamannia for months
while waiting for the planes to become coterminous. Another option is for the
group to be stranded when their airship passes through a manifest zone and the
elemental breaks free; in this case, the adventurers must decide whether to
protect the other survivors, and deal with conflicts that arise among them.
Island. Due to close ties to Lamannia, there’s an island that is home to an
unusual array of megafauna beasts. Adventurers could stumble onto this on their
own, or they could be hired by an heir of House Vadalis who wants to
investigate the rumors without drawing the attention of rivals in the house.
Beast. A Lamannian zone could realize a megafauna predator into the region,
spreading terror among the locals. Must this creature be destroyed? Can it be
returned through the zone, or is it even hostile?
Lamannia suppresses the negative effects of the curse of lycanthropy. Adventurers
could stumble upon a village of lycanthropes and jump to the wrong conclusion,
not knowing that the influence of the local manifest zone allows them to
control the curse. Alternatively, a group of benevolent lycanthropes could
return to Eberron only to fall prey to the predatory impulses of the curse: can
the adventurers capture these lycanthropes alive and help them return to the
Hunt. The trail of a powerful artifact leads to Lamannia. It might have
been on a ship lost in the Graveyard, or it could be that an artificer needs
Lamannian resources to complete an eldritch machine. Can the adventurers win
this deadly race?
With Nature. An Ashbound druid manages to establish a new Lamannian
manifest zone in a major city, such as Fairhaven or Sharn. The resistance
effect is causing the city to crumble, releasing elementals and wild
vegetation. Can the adventurers find a way to remove the manifest zone?
Alternately, House Cannith could be determined to create a bridge that allows
them to harvest Lamannian resources… will they succeed, or will their efforts
· Unusual Flavor. The impact of a manifest zone can be felt just as part of the backdrop of a scenario. The village of Clearwater is in a hostile region, but it survives because of the small lake that provides fresh water and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of fish. In a small Eldeen village, the locals live in harmony with a breed of giant rabbits unknown elsewhere in Khorvaire. A tribe of shifters lives in the branches of the three massive trees that grow in a Lamannian manifest zone.
If you have questions or stories about what you’ve done with Lamannia, post them below!
I’m working on a post about Phoenix for next week, but today I’m going to address a few more questions about the planes of Eberron. Like much about the planes, most of these topics have no answers in canon material, so what you’re dealing with are my current thoughts and opinions, and NOT canon.
Did the effects of the Mournland bleed into other planes where Cyran manifests zones existed?
In Dragon #408 I said “The devastation of the Mourning had repercussions across the planes. Perhaps the grievous wound to Eberron was felt across her creations.” That article presents Baator as a demiplane where corrupted spirits are imprisoned and asserts that on the Day of Mourning the wards holding the prisoners faltered — so in this version of Eberron, the devils have only been in control of Baator for a few years. Given this, it’s logical to think that other planes could also have felt similar impacts. We haven’t suggested major transformations, but I think it’s interesting to explore pockets of the planes that have been transformed in unpredictable ways.
Is there any connection between Siberys and the Silver Flame? The latter seems too embedded in the material plane.
The Silver Flame is embedded in the material plane, as are the fiends that it holds at bay. The Silver Flame was created by the combined spiritual energy of the couatl — Eberron’s native celestials — in order to bind Eberron’s native fiends. In a way it can be seen as a parallel to the myth of Eberron and Khyber; Eberron couldn’t destroy Khyber, but she could bind her. It’s commonly asserted that just as Khyber is the source of Eberron’s fiends, Siberys was the source of its celestials, so in that way the Silver Flame IS tied to Siberys. This is also something of an explanation for why the celestials of Eberron aren’t as powerful as the Overlords; after all, Khyber killed Siberys, so the balance between celestial and fiend started off poorly.
There’s nothing strange about having a divine power source based in the material plane. The demons it binds are based in the material and the champions it empowers are in the material. The Undying Court is another divine force based entirely in the material.
How do celestials relate to the Sovereigns? Do the celestials associated to the Sovereigns believe in them like the mortal races do? Are they formed from the faith of the mortals? Are there any celestials that don’t believe in any deities other than the Progenitors?
Looking at the last three questions, the answer is “yes.” When a cleric uses planar ally an outsider answers the call. There’s three possible reasons ways this could happen.
The ally is manifested on the spot from the energy of the divine power source. Once its job is done it will be absorbed back into the source. This is particularly logical for the Silver Flame, which as described above has no roots in the outer planes. Given that, if I DID have an angel respond to a Silver Flame caster’s spells, I might use angel stats but I’d likely give it couatl features — rainbow wings, feathers instead of hair, etc. Essentially, a celestial of this sort is a pure embodiment of the faith and should have whatever trappings are appropriate for that.
The ally is an existing immortal who is devoted to the faith. In Fourth Edition material we suggest that there are angels (which in 4E is a broader class of celestial than in previous editions) who are devoted to the Sovereigns. The account is essentially that the Sovereigns at one point were present in the planes before ascending to a higher level of existence (which lines up with the Draconic Thir view of the Sovereigns). The angels have no direct line of communication with the Sovereigns, but have absolute faith that the Sovereigns exist and are part of the machinery of reality, and that my carrying out their functions the angels are following the plans of the Sovereigns. This is also in line with the idea of Radiant Idols — who are essentially angels who have become jealous of the worship the absent Sovereigns receive and want such worship themselves.
But you could just as easily say that the angel in question doesn’t believe in the faith and that this doesn’t matter. When a cleric of Dol Arrah calls for a planar ally, they might get an angel from Irian who is devoted to protecting life and inspiring hope. Or they might get an archon from Shavarath who embodies combat fought for a just cause. Neither of these celestials cares exactly what the mortal believes; they are responding to the justice of the cause. It’s clear that this is aligned with their purpose… and that’s all that matters.
If I ever get to write a sourcebook on the planes, I’ll have to decide which of those last two answers I’ll run with. But both are plausible.
Can spells call on planar allies from sources like the Path of Light or the Becoming God that haven’t become Sovereign or Planar dominating yet?
Sure: either the first or third options I share above apply to this situation. The Path of Light is divine power source. Therefore the planar ally could be manifested on the spur of the moment from that source. It doesn’t have a truly independent identity and existence; it comes into being to fulfil the needs of the caster and vanishes once it’s done. If you’ve seen Rick & Morty, it’s a Mister Meeseeks. The third option is the idea that you’re just drawing an outsider who supports what you’re trying to do, even if they don’t share your faith.
Where do the fiendish/devil/demons conjured by evil clerics come from? Can you do some examples as you did for celestial creatures?
All the premises given for divine casters summoning celestials apply to fiends as well. They’re either formed directly from the divine power source, immortals devoted to the force in question, or immortals who approve of the general principle of the call. Mabaran fiends are generally happy for an opportunity to cause loss or crush hopes. Demons of Shavarath enjoy savage bloodshed.
We know of Mabar and Irian crystals, and dusk and dawnshards have been mentioned, are there other planar shards or crystals?
Certainly. There are a host of minerals and vegetation infused with planar energies or shaped by exposure to those energies, and this is true of every plane. Such things are most typically found in manifest zones, where they are shaped by long-term exposure to planar energies. In the case of plants, they usually won’t grow outside such zones… or they’ll grow, but will lack their remarkable properties. This is why covadish leaves (ECS 91) are only found in Aerenal; they are specifically found in certain manifest zones tied to Mabar, which are most common in Aerenal.
So: there are many different forms of planetouched minerals and plants. Many of these serve as components for spells and the creation of magic items; we’ve just never called these things out. For example, in the Thorn of Breland books Thorn uses Mabaran nightwater when disarming mystical wards. In my opinion, this wasn’t a special magic item that was giving her extra bonuses; it’s that nightwater is part of a rogue’s basic toolkit when dealing with magical traps. Likewise, while the core PHB might suggest that a fireball requires sulpher or guano as a component, in Eberron wizards might instead use a pinch of Fernian firedust. This is no more difficult to acquire than sulfur would be in another setting; it’s simply that it’s a resource unique to the world.
When it becomes possible to create new Eberron material, I’d love to put together a more substantial list of such things — both those background items like nightwater and firedust and things that are rarer and have more dramatic uses.
Do dragonshards operate differently on other planes?
We’ve never suggested that they behave in unusual ways when taken to other planes, and at least in the novels we have planar travelers who don’t experience any unusual behavior with dragonshards or dragonmarks.
Eberron has various Ages in its history, are there any planar milestones tracked on other planes?
Sure, but I can’t give you specific examples until there’s an opportunity to develop the planes in more detail. The Turning of the Age in Dal Quor is an example of this established in canon. Perhaps Fernia has a similar cycle — it’s currently mildly evil-aligned and thus dominated by the malevolent aspects of fire, but perhaps at other times it’s been mildly good-aligned and more positive. The Endless Night has cycles of absorption and assimilation. I have thoughts about how milestones might unfold in Shavarath — but it’s something that will have to wait for a longer article.
I’d love to read about how the gith survive on Kythri. With how chaotic it is, how do permanent establishments exist?
First of all, I think Kythri is more complex than the previous description gives it credit for. Its layers are symbols of chaos, change and uncertainty; that doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire plane is literally formless, churning chaos. The Githzerai might have drifting monastaries that ARE constantly changing and evolving — but they never stop being monastaries, and the change occurs over hours or days, not seconds. The Githzerai are comfortable with this constant change; like a zen garden, they meditate on the shifting form and how it reflects reality. It may well be that it’s the mental discipline of the Githzerai that imposes this relative stability; if the monks were to abandon their monastary (or if they were killed) it would dissolve into the greater chaos.
If you have questions or thoughts about the planes, post them below! And thanks as always to the Patreonsupporters who keep the blog going.
Recently I polled my Patreon backers for questions related to the Planes of Eberron. There’s still a lot of questions I’d like to address, so I’m going to keep talking about the planes for the rest of the month; I’ll hold a poll on Patreon soon to determine next month’s topic.
Have you done any thinking on the role of aasimar in the setting? I’d love an example or two of uniquely Eberron takes on them.
First of all, you might want to check my previous posts on using exotic races and tieflings, since many of the concepts overlap. I haven’t personally used aasimar in Eberron in the past. The Kalashtar already fill the role of “race touched by noble celestial force” and they have a well-established place in the setting; beyond that, we also already have the shulassakar as a race of divine champions touched by the Silver Flame.
Of course, aasimars don’t have to be an entire race. They can easily be individuals shaped by exposure to divine forces… or literally planetouched, altered by the energies of one of the planes. Here’s a few quick takes.
Do you want to be a member of a hidden race touched by divine power and devoted to fighting the forces of darkness? Then the shulassakar might be right for you. As described in this Dragonshard, the ancestors of the shulassakar were human; but after generations of serving the Silver Flame and the couatl, they have evolved into something new. They are described as being similar to yuan-ti, but as specifically having couatl traits instead of general serpent traits. Like the yuan-ti, the degree of this mutation varies. Transcendent shulassakar are equivalent to yuan-ti abominations. Flametouched shulassakar are similar to the malisons of 5E. And Flamesworn shulassakar are much like yuan-ti purebloods… nearly human, with just a few twists that reveal their true heritage and connection to the Silver Flame.
In playing an aasimar in 5E Eberron, one of the simplest options is to be a Flamesworn shulassakar. Your celestial guide is the spirit of a couatl, and your radiant racial powers reflect your connection both to the couatl and the Silver Flame. If you choose the Protector subrace, the wings you manifest are the rainbow-feathered wings of a couatl. As a Scourge you unleash the radiant power of the Silver Flame. The other racial features are all sound enough; as a Flamesworn shulassakar you don’t have sufficient serpentine traits to require mechanical representation. Physically you should appear to be generally human, but you could have a few unusual cosmetic details to make life interesting. You could have a mane of rainbow feathers instead of hair. Less dramatically, you could have serpentine eyes… and your irises might swirl in a rainbow of colors. You could have patches of iridescent scales. But mechanically you can use the features of the aasimar.
In playing a shulassakar aasimar, one question is your connection to others of your race. The shulassakar are a true-breeding race, devoted to fighting darkness and demons. They are few in number and generally work from the shadows. Have you been given a particular mission by a leader of your people? Or perhaps your cell was wiped out by the Lords of Dust, leaving you the only survivor? You could have a concrete mission you’re trying to accomplish, or you could be relying on your couatl mentor to guide you towards your destiny.
THE MIRON GAMBIT
When Bel Shalor threatened Thrane, a couatl contacted Tira Miron and guided her on the path to bind the demon. This was more than the typical tie between a cleric or paladin and their divine power source; Tira received direct guidance and power from a spiritual emissary of the Silver Flame. What does that look like if it happens today? Take a human; add the ability to communicate with an emissary of a divine force; say that this connection gives them an infusion of radiant energy and the ability to manifest this power; and you have an aasimar. The point is that this isn’t genetic; this is about destiny and faith. You weren’t born an aasimar; you were chosen to become one. Most likely you appear entirely human except when you use your radiant racial abilities; at these times you might be surrounded by a halo or similar dramatic effects. Why were you chosen? What is your mission? What is your spiritual guide?
The concept here is that an aasimar is someone that has a direct connection to a celestial and a mission from one of the primary faiths of Eberron. The Silver Flame is easy; you manifest radiant fire. If you’re tied to the Sovereign Host, the manifestation of your abilities might be reflected by the Sovereign you’re tied to. If you’re connected to Arawai, your radiant power might be a verdant green, and plants might flower when you touch them. If you’re tied to Olladra, you might have minor manifestations of good fortune — if you walk through a casino, the slot machines hit jackpots. The radiant manifestations of an aasimar tied to the Blood of Vol might be blood-red flames.
The critical question is what your celestial guide is like. If you want to have a mentor relationship with your guide — if it’s someone that you can TALK to — then it shouldn’t be a Sovereign or the Flame; instead it should be a celestial devoted to that force. So if you’re tied to Arawai, you don’t talk to HER; instead you have an angel from Irian who guides you in Olladra’s name. As an aasimar tied to the Silver Flame, you’re guided by a couatl (just like Tira Miron was). The strangest idea is that of the aasimar of the Blood of Vol, whose spiritual guide could be their own divine spark — the piece of divinity that exists within them and knows what they could become. Alternately you could have the aasimar receive visions or pronouncements that might come directly from a Sovereign. But following the general principle of Eberron that the divine is mysterious, you shouldn’t be able to just chat with a Sovereign; they would communicate in visions and intuition.
Aasimar are often described as “planetouched.” In Eberron, that’s an easy thing to be. If you want aasimar to be a thing that exists within the world in significant numbers, an easy option is to say that an aasimar is the result of a child being conceived in a powerful manifest zone or during a coterminous period tied to a generally positively aligned plane. A few obvious options are Irian, Syrania, Shavarath or Fernia.
Irian is the plane of light and life, and the easiest option for the classic Aasimar. You might have luminous eyes and a vibrant, healthy glow. Your celestial mentor would encourage you to fight the forces of darkness and to give hope to the hopeless.
If you’re tied to Shavarath, you have a connection to the Archons that embody just conflict. You should naturally be aggressive, quick to fight for any just cause and quick to assume that conflict can be the best response to a problem… though equally bound by principles of honor and chivalry. Your hair or even skin might be the color of steel, and you are most comfortable with a weapon in your hand.
Syraniais the plane of peace and contemplation. As a Syranian aasimar you would be driven to be a mediator, to settle disputes and bring people together. Given Syrania’s aerial aspect, the Protector aasimar is the logical path for a Syranian aasimar. Alternately, your celestial guide could be the divine spark of an Angel banished from Syrania after becoming a Radiant Idol; the angel has fallen, but the spark of its original nobility is with you… and perhaps it’s your destiny to find a way to reunite that spark with the Idol and redeem the fallen angel.
Ferniais a slightly odd choice, but noble spirits of Fernia embody the positive aspects of fire: the light that keeps shadows at bay and holds off the killing cold. The Scourge aasimar is the logical choice for Fernia; I might further replace any “necrotic” racial abilities with “Fire”, and the Scourge ability might inflict fire damage instead of radiant. Note that this is different from a Genasi because you’re not about elemental fire; you are about the idea of fire as a positive force in the world. As a Fernian aasimar, you might have a mane of cold fire instead of hair, or burning eyes.
The critical question with planetouched aasimar is how many of them exist? If your Fernian aasimar with the burning hair walks into a bar, does anyone know what you are? And of those who do, are you considered to be blessed, or are you a freak? Sharn is in a Syranian manifest zone and since it’s not full of aasimar, presumably it takes more than proximity alone to produce one… unless you decide that your Sharn IS full of aasimar, in which case people are probably fairly familiar with them!
OFF THE WALL
As long as we’re considering crazy ideas…
You’re an experiment by House Vadalis. You HAVE a connection to the Silver Flame, but it’s artificially engineered, not driven by faith. You escaped from the house and they’re hunting you — if they can isolate your connection, they can harness the power of the Flame for the Twelve.
Same idea, but it’s the Lords of Dust who are behind it. The divine power that’s tied to you is the prison of a specific Overlord; the stronger you grow, the weaker his bonds become.
You’re one of nine aasimar born at the same time. Each one of you hears the voice of a Sovereign guiding you. As you gain power, you could BECOME an avatar of that Sovereign. Is this a natural process, something that happens every so often? Or has this been engineered by a Daelkyr or by the Blood of Vol — incarnating the Sovereigns so something can be done to them?
If I was a player and interested in something like this, I’d probably just tell the DM to surprise me. Anyhow, hopefully this has given you some ideas to play with. Share your questions and thoughts below! And thanks again to my Patreon supporters.
All of the Planes of Eberron have stories to tell and things to offer a campaign. Unfortunately, we never had time to explore them in depth. Until Eberron is unlocked for 5E, there’s a limit to what I can do. Yesterday I posted a long article about the Endless Night, but even that only scratches the surface. I’d love to delve deeper into the denizens of the Night and schemes that could drive adventures, and to develop unique creatures or treasures that could be found there. Hopefully this will be possible in the future.
Some planes have generated more requests than others. In particular, Daanvi, Irian, and Syrania have all come up. Some people have said they don’t know what to do with them, that they’re too benevolent or too abstract, or simply that they have no touchstones to base them on. I don’t have the time to explore all of these with the same focus as the Endless Night article. But here’s some quick takes that may inspire ideas. As always, bear in mind that this information is not canon for Eberron and could contradict canon Eberron sources; this is what I’d do in my own campaign.
THE ETERNAL DAWN
Yesterday I explored the Endless Night. The Eternal Dawn is its opposite in all ways. The Dawn embodies both life and hope. It’s the dawn that inevitably overcomes the darkness, the spring that will eventually triumph over even the coldest winter. It is the wellspring of positive energy, which is the foundation of light, life and love.
The Eternal Dawn is also filled with layers, but its layers are about beginnings. These include fertile realms untouched by cultivating tools, but also budding towns or new villages, or the capital of an empire in its first days of glory. So: how does such a capital differ from a fortress in the Battleground? How is a virgin woodland any different from something you’d find in the Twilight Forest? The issue is the theme, which is always felt throughout the plane. In the Battleground, you will never escape the presence of war and strife. There are always archons drilling for battle, the scent of blood and smoke in the air, constant preparation for the next struggle. By contrast, the Amaranthine City in the Eternal Dawn is suffused by a sense of optimism and opportunity. There may be guards, but you won’t see armies; there may be fortifications, but they don’t feel worn and they don’t dominate things. The landscapes of the Twilight Forest emphasize the primordial power of nature; in the Eternal Dawn the focus is simply on vibrance and fertility. And yes, the Amaranthine City at the heart of the Dawn shares its name with the city at the core of the Endless Night.
It is believed that whenever the Endless Night seizes a fragment of reality, a new seed appears in the Eternal Dawn – a realm that grows as its counterpart in the Night is consumed, ultimately flowing away from the Dawn to fill the vacant space and restore the balance of energy in the wounded plane.
The Eternal Dawn is a constant source of hope and positive energy. Its celestials and Lumi rarely intrude directly on other planes, because they don’t have to; just as the Gardeners of the Endless Night cultivate despair without ever leaving their plane, the powers of the Dawn promote hope from beyond. With that said, the celestials of the Eternal Dawn are those most likely to help mortals. In Eberron, the celestials of Irian are the spirits that commonly respond to planar ally and similar mystic requests from divine casters tied to the Sovereign Host. Some of these celestials are devoted to the Sovereigns; others are simply happy to answer the call of someone in need. (In my opinion, the Silver Flame usually generates temporary celestials out of the raw energy of the Flame… but there are certainly spirits in Irian who would be glad to support Templars facing forces of darkness.)
Here’s a few other ways the Eternal Dawn could touch a campaign.
While the Dawn rarely intervenes, occasionally one or more Lumi will venture to the material to strike darkness directly. The PCs could encounter a group of vigilantes backed by Lumi. A Lumi could appear and announce that it’s here to help the PCs with the darkness that has targeted them… which is a way for a group to discover that they’ve been targeted by darkness. Do they embrace the Lumi and follow its lead? Or do they think the celestial is crazy?
A PC injured by dark magic has a wound that seemingly will never heal. But the Waters of Life in the Amaranthine City can cure any ill; they may be the only hope for the victim.
There is a manifest zone tied to the Eternal Dawn between two villages on a national border, and both villages lay claim to this region (which amplifies fertility of both plants and animals). This feud is on the verge of breaking into open conflict… can the PCs resolve the situation?
A paladin is presented with a weapon, shield or tool that holds the essence of a celestial from the Dawn. Can they live up to the expectations of the spirit?
A planar scholar believes that the power of Irian could restore the Mournland. Will the PCs travel to the Amaranthine City and implore the Dawn Emperor for aid? Assuming the Emperor has the power to direct the restorative powers of the Dawn to this purpose, what will he require?
THE AZURE SKY
Crystal spires floating in blue sky. Farms are spread across soft banks of clouds. It is breathtaking, serene, and above all, peaceful. The Azure Sky is the realm of peace and of those things that flourish in peaceful times, such as abstract knowledge and commerce.
It is virtually impossible to conceive an aggressive thought while in this plane. For this reason, it has become a crossroads for planar travelers, both immortal and otherwise. The Immeasurable Market hosts artisans and merchants from across realities. While the Market includes beings from many planes, most of the floating towers of the Azure Sky are home only to angels engaged in serene contemplation. Some of these angels are scholars studying a particular topic. Others are philosophers who contemplate a particular concept. Others simply embody an idea. This can overlap with other planes in strange ways. You could have an angel of Hope in the Azure Sky, but this is very different from a celestial from the Eternal Dawn. The angel in the Azure Sky doesn’t INNATELY embody hope; rather it is about the idea of someone seeking to embrace and understand hope… and beyond that, it is the only angel in the plane who has this role. You can even have an angel who studies the arts of war; but it does so in an abstract and peaceful way, as opposed to the active aggression of an Archon of the Battlefield.
As a rule the Azure Sky doesn’t meddle in the affairs of other realms. But here’s a few ideas.
An angel could venture into the material plane seeking to prove a thesis related to its field of study. This could require interaction with (or manipulation of) player characters. Alternately, the angel could intend to be present only as an observer but instead be drawn into a conflict.
An unusual merchant might have a back door that opens onto the Immeasurable Market, where they trade mundane things as exotic curiosities.
A traveling merchant selling goods from the Immeasurable Market could cause chaos, innocently or intentionally.
PCs could require specific knowledge known only to an angelic scholar or goods only available in the Immeasurable Market. Or perhaps they are pursuing a fugitive who has managed to flee to the Azure Sky… how do you capture this villain in a realm where conflict is impossible?
THE PERFECT ORDER
As with many other planes, the Perfect Order has levels and layers that embody different aspects of the ideas of Law and Order, Discipline and Civilization. Unlike the other planes, in the Perfect Order these layers are carefully laid out and connected by a clear and simple system of portals — of course, you have to follow the proper protocols and be authorized to USE those portals. There are districts where Formians endlessly toil over perfectly maintained fields. There’s an endless series of courts where Inevitable tribunals judge the actions of mortals, chronicling every crime every committed; in some instances judgement is passed instantly, where other cases can last a mortal lifetime. All laws, systems of government, and violations of these laws are recorded and filed away in the Infinite Archives, catalogued and managed by a seemingly endless hierarchy of modrons. There are districts that are prefect models of utopian societies… and districts where the law is a brutal and oppressive force. Order is powerful, but it’s not innately good; the Perfect Order thus embodies law as a force for justice as well as the crushing weight of an oppressive system.
This is a slight twist from the depiction of Daanvi in The Eberron Campaign Setting, which focuses on order purely as a dispassionate force for an abstractly general good. In my mind, the Perfect Order should be entirely as diverse as Shavarath, and with the same dichotomy: the nature of an outsider reflects whether it represents Order as a positive or negative force. Formians, Inevitables and Modrons are neutral, and they reflect the dispassionate imposition or law and order outside of judgement of good or evil. But then you have devils embodying the harsh imposition of order and the use of laws as a tool of oppression – with celestials embodying the noble aspects of law and order, the quest for justice and for a utopian society. In many cases an entire district will follow a particular theme, but there are surely districts where devils debate archons before impassive inevitable arbiters, engaging in cases that could last for centuries. I’d love to explore this in more depth — exactly what sorts of fiends and celestials would fill these roles? What are some specific examples of an oppressive district? — but it will have to wait until another time.
Here’s a few thoughts about ways to use the Perfect Order in a campaign.
It’s unusual for an inevitable to interfere with the material world. But there are oaths that can be sworn — mystical vows that enforce a bargain with the power of Daanvi. It’s no trivial thing to enact such a pact, but should it be broken the oathbreaker will be hounded by kolyaruts and other inevitable forces.
The Infinite Archive records all laws and transgressions since the dawn of time. Perhaps the PCs need to know the details of some ancient transgression… but can they work their way through the modron bureaucracy to get it?
The tribunals of Daanvi judge all crimes, but they don’t have the jurisdiction to punish crimes on the material plane. However, if a mortal comes forward and offers to serve justice against a heinous transgressor, the powers of Daanvi might provide tools to help this person enact a proper punishment. However, this would call the eye of Daanvi down onto this person and their allies, and place them under the jurisdiction of the Court… are they so sure they are without crimes of their own?
As with the Azure Sky, a fugitive could flee to the Perfect Order. The PCs need to apprehend this person quickly to prevent some sort of disaster. But when they get to the Perfect Order they discover that the villain is already on trial… but that this trial could last a decade. Can the PCs find a way to either extract their target or so speed up the justice of Daanvi?
Artifacts from the Perfect Order could have powerful effects with dangerous consequences. A stone could cause all creatures within a mile to always speak the truth. A scourge could purge all thoughts of rebellion from anyone struck with it. A crown could whisper advice to its wearer, guiding its bearer to rule a perfect kingdom – but is it just order, or cruel tyranny?
Whether by natural mishap or the actions of an enemy, PCs could suddenly find themselves in a brutally oppressive district in the Perfect Order. Can they survive and escape? Through their actions, could they even shift the balance of the district – replacing tyranny with justice?
If we wanted to place fiends on Irian, would it follow that fiends related to cancers and tumours (aka uncontrolled growth) would be appropriate?
Irian isn’t about the mechanical and scientific idea of life, which is really more tied to Lamannia. In a sense ALL diseases could be defined as being about life, as viruses simply seek to reproduce. More than anything, Irian is about positive energy and all that that embodies. It’s about life in opposition to death, creation versus destruction, hope versus despair – not the difficulties and complications that come with life. One quick thing to consider: Irian is the source of positive energy, which is the basis of all healing magic. In your Eberron, can cancer be cured with healing magic? If so, I see no reason why the concept of it would thrive in Irian. If not – which could be interesting – then maybe it would fit in Irian. But I generally see embodiments of disease being tied to Mabar (as things that decay and destroy) or Lamannia (as part of nature).
Of all the planes, Mabar and Irian have the strongest innate alignment towards “good” and “evil”, which is why I call our Irian as the source of most planar allies. Looking to Shavarath, Daanvi, even Fernia we generally look at the positive and negative aspects of the core concept. But Irian and Mabar ARE positive and negative. There’s not a lot of room for darkness in the Eternal Dawn.
Is there any connection or possible connections between warforgeds and inevitables?
I don’t see that being something we’d ever suggest in canon Eberron. While Inevitables look like constructs, they’re immortal outsiders — not living constructs like the warforged. And per canon sources, if anyone outsiders influenced the creation of the warforged it’s most likely to have been the pre-Dreaming Dark Quori (as hinted at in Secrets of Xen’drik and The Shattered Land). But if YOU want to play with the idea of the Inevitables inspiring or aiding the creation of the Warforged — and perhaps having the power to commandeer warforged bodies — it could be an interesting plotline.
What are the “eternal laws” that inevitables will enforce? Did somebody build them?
In my opinion, the Inevitables are immortal spirits that embody the idea of law and inevitable justice. They weren’t built, and they aren’t actually constructs in the same sense as warforged; they simply APPEAR to be constructs because that fits the concept of an utterly impartial agent of order.
I’ve suggested that the courts of Irian judge all mortal creatures — and my thought there is that they judge each creature according to the laws of its community. The Infinite Archive is a catalogue of all systems of law, and the tribunals of Daanvi impartially judge you based on YOUR laws. But that’s where they lack the jursidiction to enact sentences; they judge, but have no authority to punish. In my examples, I suggest that this is where a PC could potentially go to Daanvi and be a “process server” — but that in taking on this role, they’d better have a clean record. I could also see this as an excellent role for a paladin PC: they aren’t a paladin of a particular god, but rather acting as an enforcer for the justice of Daanvi.
As for when Inevitables will act directly, it’s up to you. In MY Eberron I don’t want Inevitables to be trivial or commonplace. I don’t want them to screw up my story (He just broke his word! Why don’t the inevitables show up to punish him?) or to diminish the role of PCs. I want them to be exotic, frightening, and as a result RARE. So I’d say that Inevitables only act when they have jurisdiction… and they can only gain jursidiction when under the following circumstances.
When they are given jurisdiction by the target. As I suggest earlier, I think it should be possible to swear an oath that puts you under the eye of Daanvi. But this should be an actual magical ritual with expensive components, not something done trivially. A member of the Aurum could pull this out when demanding loyalty from PCs, but it’s not something you’re going to do with a common merchant.
The Inevitables could have jursidiction over actions taken in a manifest zone to Daanvi, or when Daanvi is coterminous with Eberron. So you may have the ancient oathstone where a tribe makes their vows (…and eternal justice will punish he who breaks his vow to the stones…) or a time when EVERYONE knows that you have to tread carefully when Daanvi is coterminous.
But as always in Eberron, what makes a good story?
So: how common are travelers in Syrania and Daanvi?
I think it’s very rare for extraplanar travelers to go to Daanvi. Among other things, anyone going to Daanvi is going to have to deal with all the various restrictions and regulations, with serious consequences if you transgress.
Syrania, on the other hand, is a place that is welcoming to planar travelers. You still may not have many travelers from Eberron, but there are certainly some; you might have a dragon from the Chamber consulting angelic scholars or a Night Hag browsing the Immeasurable Market. But I certainly think you have a mix of mortals and lesser immortals from other planes, along with a few powerful spirits. The question is WHY a powerful spirit would choose to leave its home plane. One point is that Syrania is a place of absolute peace; perhaps opposing generals in Shavarath might meet in Syrania as an absolute neutral ground, or a Thelanian wizard might share arcane notes and stories with a counterpart from Xoriat. All of these things would still be rare — but again, if that’s the story you want to tell, Syrania is a good place for it to play out.
Dragons have power for dimensional travel and are mortals. But it looks like they don’t do it very often even if it could be a great resource against demons. Why?
Powerful dragons are certainly potential planar travelers. But it’s not necessarily as great a resource as you might think. As a rule, planar travel is dangerous. You’re dealing with powerful beings driven by alien logic and odds are good you don’t understand their worldview. Very few of them are interesting in helping you, and those who are will need an excellent reason. On the whole, the archons of Shavarath don’t care about the dragons’ current squabble with some demons, because the war the archons are fighting themselves is more important and is, in their opinion, defining the balance of the entire universe. Essentially, by fighting their war the Archons believe they ARE already helping everyone on Eberron and they don’t have time for your petty, small-minded mortal problems: they’ve got to get back to the war. A Syranian scholar may be willing to take some time to talk to you, but again, their contemplation is more important than your mortal problems — and if you expect to get much of their time, you’d better have something interesting to offer them.
But in short: dragons MAY be engaging in dimensional travel. A Chamber agent might have access to a sword forged in the Eternal Dawn or a treasure from the Immeasurable Market. We don’t know about it because we know next to nothing about what dragons are doing in their struggle against the Lords of Dust. But they aren’t bringing in hordes of allies from Shavarath (or other planes) because the immortals aren’t interested. I’ll talk more about the motivations of celestials tomorrow.
Would you have any idea about the kind of things a host of angels from the Azure Sky would like to keep secure, that may kindle envy from an outsider (be it a NPC or, for that matter, PC in a different context)?
Given the theme of commerce, it could literally be anything, because it could have come from another plane. But looking to something with a concrete tie to the plane…
A gemstone that is believed to hold an entire reality within it. The gem serves as a source of power for divine spells, as the attuned bearer can draw on the devotion of an entire world.
A crystal that is the essence of an angel, who engaged in contemplation so deep that they condensed into this form; it’s unknown if they will one day reform, and if so what revelations they will bear.
A cloud seed. If activated, it will extrude an island-sized mass of solid (but floating) cloud-matter that can serve as a foundation for buildings. This region is also treated as a manifest zone to Syrania; this could have the same properties as the Sharn zone, or it could have an additional enforced peace effect.
A coin with which you can purchase anything. Anything that can be bought can be purchased with this coin; its irresistible magic compels the owner to make the trade. In the process this means you’re giving them the coin, so you only get to use it once. But you can buy anything that can be bought with it.
A book scribed by a since-fallen angel that is the absolute source of knowledge on something. A particular Overlord or type of demon. An epic spell that could have catastrophic effects if cast. Some secret lore about one of the planes. If you want to take things a step farther, the angel could have “fallen” into Xoriat; this book holds some secret about the nature of reality so fundamentally destabilizing that realizing it shifted them into being a spirit of madness.
I wish that I had more time to explore these things, and I hope that someday I will. Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. And as always, thanks to everyone who’s supporting the site on Patreon; the more support we have, the more I can do with it in the future.
And on the pedestal these words appear: ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.
Percy Shelley, “Ozymandias”
A sea of liquid shadows laps against black sands and basalt cliffs. A skull lies half-buried in the sand, empty sockets gazing into the roiling mist. The bone isn’t sun-bleached, for there is no sun here; only a faint glimmer from the deep violet moon that hangs in the sky. If you’re playing in Eberron, this is the plane of Mabar. If you’re playing Phoenix: Dawn Command it could be a realm of the Fallen in the deep Dusk. For now, set aside specific system and setting and consider the Endless Night.
Those who know little of what lies beyond common reality often assume that the Endless Night is the plane of “darkness” — that this physical trait is its defining concept. Though the plane is shrouded in shadows, this eternal gloom is just a symptom of the true nature of this place. Even the brightest day will eventually end in darkness, and the Endless Night embodies this idea. It is the shadow that surrounds every island of light, patiently waiting to consume it. This isn’t the place where the souls of the living go after death, but it is the plane of death itself — the hungry shadow that consumes both light and life. It is entropy, hunger and loss — embodying the idea that all things will eventually end in darkness.
Like many of the planes, the Endless Night isn’t one contiguous landscape. Rather, it’s layers of reality, each one a different vision of desolation and inevitable decay. In one layer a desert of black sand is broken by jagged obsidian peaks. In another layer, a once-fertile valley has wasted away; crumbling farms are scattered amid withered fields. Another layer is a single vast city. The fountains are dry, the walls are cracked, but rotting tapestries and chipped mosaics speak of an age of wonders. The critical thing to understand is that this cities has ALWAYS been a ruin. This is what Mabar is: the end of things embodied. When mortals pass through, the idea of decay may manifest dramatically – a bridge collapses, a floor gives way – but come back in a week and there will be a new crumbling bridge ready to fall. These layers are symbols of inevitable entropy and lost glory; the precise details may evolve and change, but the net effect remains the same.
While the stage varies — a desert, a ruined city, the withered remains of fertile farmland, or anything else you can imagine — the story is always about loss, entropy, despair, and death. Feel free to add anything that ties to these themes. A massive battlefield filled with the intertwined bones of dragons and giants. Ossuaries and catacombs. Crumbling memorials, with names just too faded to read. Barren orchards and dried riverbeds. And tombs… from tiny unmarked crypts to the death-palaces of fallen rulers, necropolises filled with traps and treasures. And this being the Endless Night, some of those dead rulers still dominate their domains, whether they take the form of undead or simply malevolent will.
These layers aren’t bound by the laws of physical space. They can be tiny, or they can be seemingly infinite. A desert may wrap back upon itself, and the alleys in a city could twist in impossible ways to always return you to the main square… or you could just come to an absolute edge, where everything falls away into an endless and all-consuming void. To move from one layer to another you must either employ spells of your own or find a portal that connects the two realms. Sometimes these are fairly obvious: a massive gate standing alone in the desert, a pit filled with swirling shadows. In other cases, the connection could be entirely abstract. If you are in the valley of the Bone King and you want to get to the desert of the Queen of All Tears, the answer is simple: all you have to do is sincerely cry, and the tears themselves will take you there.
Of course, if you want to explore the Endless Night there are problems you will face no matter where you go. The realm itself constantly consumes light and life. In 3.5 D&D terms it is minorly negative dominant. Unless you’re protected by some form of warding magics, the Night will continuously drain away your life energy, ultimately consuming your body and leaving nothing but a shadow. Even if you’re protected against this effect you must still deal with the darkness. All light sources in this plane are reduced to dim light. The radius of illumination doesn’t change, but no light can banish the perpetual gloom. Spells that use negative energy will be maximized (variable die rolls such as damage and healing have the maximum possible result; this doesn’t affect attack rolls or saving throws), while spells that rely on positive energy are minimized.
THE CONSUMING DARKNESS
Many of the layers of the Endless Night are purely symbolic. These ruins have existed for as long as the plane itself. Many… but not all. Most of the planes don’t interact with one another. The armies of the Battleground endlessly battle each other — they don’t lay siege to the Realm of Madness. The planes are self-contained and focused on their own slivers of reality. But the concept that defines the Endless Night is the hunger to consume light and life, along with the inevitable downfall of all things. And when all the forces align just perfectly, fragments of other planes can be pulled into the Endless Night. These fragments are caught on the edge of the night, the same way mortal dreams drift around the heart of the Realm of Dreams. Over time, they are drained and pulled closer to the core, until ultimately they are fully assimilated into the plane as a new bleak layer. Typically mortals will be transformed into shadows or other forms of undead; immortals might become yugoloths, or twisted into dark mockeries of their former selves.
The Drifting Citadel is just such a layer. This floating tower was once a library; in Eberron it was part of Syrania, while in Phoenix it was created by the Faeda Concord. Now it drifts through a icy void, grand windows shattered and books fallen from their shelves. Shadows of sages clutch at books with insubstantial fingers, never able to turn a page. The angelic librarians are now tormented spirits who hunger for knowledge, draining the memories from any creature unfortunate enough to fall into their grasp.
With this in mind, as you create layers of the Endless Night, consider the history of the layer. Is it a symbolic layer that has always been desolate? Or is it a place that once knew light before it was consumed by the Endless Night? Beyond this, you can also explore the fragments that are in the process of being consumed. Fragments of outer planes might understand what’s going on and be trying to find a way to fight it… but pieces stolen from the material plane may have no way to know what’s happening to them. So you could have a small kingdom ruled by a tragic lord who wields great power and yet is being consumed by darkness… an inescapable realm shrouded by mists, seeming cut off from the rest of the world. All of which is to say that this would be an easy way to add Ravenloft into a setting, as a piece of reality that is under siege by the dark powers of the Endless Night. In Eberron, the Mourning could be what happens when a piece of reality is consumed… in which case Queen Dannel could still rule over a version of Cyre that is being consumed by shadows. It could be that this wound will never heal, and that the Mournland is now a permanent part of Eberron; or it could be that given time restorative power will flow from the Eternal Dawn to restore the blighted land, creating a new Cyre. These unassimilated fragments don’t have the negative dominant trait, and can contain living creatures… but the consuming hunger of the Endless Night should always be felt in some way.
Overall, it might seem like this is something the powers of other planes would try to stop. But the it cannot be stopped, and they know it. It is part of the machinery of reality. The Endless Night consumes and fragments are lost. Those pulled into the darkness can fight against it, but the ultimate outcome is inevitable. Were it not for the Eternal Dawn, it would eventually consume everything. But as the Night consumes, the Dawn restores, and so balance is ultimately maintained. The question a GM must decide is whether the fragments that are consumed are random… or whether the Empress of Shadows has some discretion over this. It might not be possible to fight the coming of night… but it could be that planar emissaries come to the Amaranthine City to negotiate with the Empress of Shadows and turn the hungry darkness in a different direction.
DENIZENS OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT
The most numerous inhabitants of Mabar are shadows. These semi-sentient spirits linger in places where you might expect to find people, forlornly pantomiming the roles of the absent inhabitants. You’ll find the shadows of children playing on the corner of a Mabaran street, or the shadow of a priest silently praying to an absent and unknown god in a shattered temple. Many sages who study the planes believe that these shadows are tied to mortals… that every sentient mortal creature has a shadow in the Endless Night, a manifestation of their darker impulses. These shadows don’t speak and are driven by impulse and instinct. They hunger for the lifeforce of mortals, and if planar travelers aren’t protected by magic they may be swarmed by hungry shadows.
The more desolate planes are home to nightshades. These powerful creatures are conduits of negative energy. In the obsidian desert, massive nightcrawlers lurk in the dark sands while nightwalkers lay claim to the ruins and rule over the shadows. Nightshades often attack fragments, feeding on the energy of the fragment and accelerating its assimilation. In these attacks, nightcrawlers may rely on raw force which nightwalkers may lead armies of undead. While intelligent, nightshades are more alien and primal than the yugoloths and rarely negotiate or converse with outsiders.
If the Endless Night has a heart, it would be the Amaranthine City… a metropolis that fills an entire layer. Nothing flourishes in this plane; banners are tattered and gardens are withered. But it is still wondrous in the scope of its cyclopean towers and grand fortifications. It is the capital of an empire in decline, and yet the hint of what it was at the height of its glory makes it wondrous even when faded. And it is no empty shell; it is a city alive with activity. This is the seat of the Empress of Shadows and her people; in D&D terms, these are the yugoloths. These are spirits of darkness, embodiments of hunger, despair and death. To all appearances, the yugoloths are citizens of a vast empire; they maintain that all things were once in darkness and eventually will be again.
Many yugoloths serve in the army. The Legion of Night lays siege to the fragments of planes that have powerful inhabitants of their own. The yugoloths do battle with angels and devils trapped in their doomed fragments, until the fragments are ultimately fully drained, assimilated, and their immortal inhabitants converted to a form more suited to the Endless Night. It’s questionable if these battles actually speed up the assimilation, or if they are simply a way for the fiends to pass the time; certainly, they enjoy these struggles.
Other yugoloths are gardeners… but what they cultivate is darkness. Most gardeners work with shadows. They search for promising shadows and use their abilities to strengthen a shadow in certain ways. It’s thought that this in turn feeds the darkness of the mortal tied to the shadow, potentially filling them with despair or driving them down dark paths. When the mortal eventually dies, the yugoloth can harness and refine the essence of the shadow, which can be used to create tools, elixirs, or works of art. While most gardeners work with shadows, some go into the fragments of the material plane that are being assimilated, twisting and tormenting the mortals trapped their in slow and subtle ways.
These are common paths, but there are many others. Some are philosophers and oracles who contemplate the nature of entropy and the way in which things will end. Some are artists and artisans, crafting shadow and spirit to create tools and weapons (which can cause death and despair should they make their way to the mortal world). And some serve seemingly menial roles in the Amaranthine City.
There are many other lesser inhabitants of the plane. Succubi are lesser spirits that embody emotional pain and loss. Some succubi are solitary and prey on mortals in fragments, while others live alongside the yugoloths and ply their wiles on them; the suffering of a fiend is just as satisfying to them as that of a mortal. Other succubi are gardeners, and some believe that a succubi can drain the love from a mortal heart by bleeding it from their shadow. And last but certainly not least, the Endless Night is home to undead. Most of the undead are symbolic: the endless skeletal armies of the Bone King aren’t actually the remains of mortal beings, and the Bone King himself, while he appears to be a lich, was likewise never mortal. Spectres and wraiths generally exist as predators, halfway between the Nightshades and the shadows. Some believe that when a vampire or lich is finally destroyed, its essence is pulled down into Mabar where it persists as a wraith… denied the eventual rest granted to other spirits of the dead, forever driven by the hunger of the night. Most are likely driven mad by this ordeal, but it’s possible that a vampire slain in a campaign could be encountered again as a spectral lord in the Endless Night.
TOUCHING THE MATERIAL: EBERRON
In an Eberron campaign, the Endless Night is the plane of Mabar. It affects the world in a number of ways: through manifest zones, coterminous periods, the actions of the plane and its denizens. Beyond this, some believe that Mabar is generally a source of despair and desolation, that it drains both emotional and physical energy from the world. While this is unproven, it is definitely the source of negative energy. Necromantic magics that sap energy or drain lifeforce draw on the power of the Endless Night. This is also the power that sustains most undead. Skeleton, vampire and wraith are all animated by the power of Mabar. This is the source of the vampire’s endless hunger and the draining touch of many undead. But even lesser undead innately draw life energy from the world around them. Typically this ambient drain is slight enough that there’s no mechanical effect; but this is why a haunted tomb will often be surrounded by dead plants and shriveled vines. The priests of Undying Court assert that negative undead are slowly destroying the world and that eventually this will cause irreparable harm; this is why the Aereni Deathguard seek to track and destroy Mabaran undead whenever possible.
One point here is the common confusion between Mabar and Dolurrh. Dolurrh is the realm of the dead, but it’s not the plane of death. Dolurrh is a place of transition. It is where the souls of the dead go after death, where the burdens of life are removed. So Dolurrh is where people go when they die; but Mabar embodies the idea of death, of inevitable loss and the end of all things.
COTERMINOUS AND REMOTE
According to the Eberron Campaign Setting, Mabar becomes coterminous for three days every five years. During these periods, there is a general increase in the amount of negative energy in the world. Shadows grow deeper and colder, and effects that rely on negative energy are strengthened. When one is alone in a dark place, this energy saps both strength and hope; solitary people are more likely to succumb to illness and despair. As a result, during these periods people generally come together to hold back the darkness. Communities gather around bonfires and sing or pray together; friends or families might gather into one abode for the duration, as bonds of love and friendship are a source of positive energy.
The Eberron Campaign Setting makes the consequences of the phase quite severe, stating “During the night and while underground, travel between the planes is much easier—simply stepping into an area where no light shines can transport a character from Eberron to Mabar, and barghests and shadows emerge from the Endless Night to hunt the nights of Eberron.” I consider this to be overstated for dramatic effect. Both of these things are possible, but here again, positive energy holds these effects at bay… and positive energy comes from light, life and love. So when Mabar is coterminous it is dangerous to go in the basement of the creepy abandoned house, or to wander alone on the moors at night. But if you’re in a house with your family and friends celebrating and singing around a roaring hearth, you don’t have to worry about being killed by a shadow when you go to the pantry. A child conceived during this period would have a chance to be born as a Mabaran tiefling… but in theory, if they child is conceived in love, that positive energy should prevent this.
While it might be possible to be transported to Mabar by passing through a shadow in a desolate place during the coterminous phase, I wouldn’t have such an effect take you to the heart of Mabar, where the minor negative dominant aspect would kill a normal person within minutes; instead, I’d have them pass into a mortal fragment that’s currently on the edge of Mabar and being consumed. Which is, again, essentially Ravenloft. You go walking on the moors at night, pass through dark mists, and find yourself in a tiny and tragic kingdom besieged by despair.
On the other hand, when Mabar is remote effects that use negative energy are impeded; spirits are generally higher (though this effect is not as dramatic as a time when Irian is coterminous); and undead are often gripped with ennui.
All manifest zones to Mabar are strong sources of negative energy. Even if this doesn’t produce a direct mechanical effect, it is always the case that a Mabaran manifest zone is an excellent place to perform any sort of ritual that draws on negative energy. Other than that, here’s a few possible traits of Mabaran manifest zones.
Blighted or unnatural vegetation.
Low fertility and reduced resistance to disease. Creatures born in the region might be sickly, or you might get unnatural creatures (like Mabaran tieflings).
Psychological gloom: a tendency towards despair, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts.
Presence of shadows, wraiths, or other undead. While these can be shades of mortals slain by other undead, they are typically just manifestations of Mabar itself – embodiments of consuming darkness.
Skeletons or zombies might spontaneously animate from corpses. Such undead don’t have any of the memories of the body and will typically seek to kill any living creatures they encounter.
Unnatural darkness; light sources could be reduced, so even the brightest source only produces dim light. You could even have an area that is permanently shrouded in magical darkness.
Spells and effects that rely on negative energy could be enhanced or even maximized; undead could be strengthened.
Shadows could take on a life of their own without becoming fully formed aggressive monsters. It’s not that they exist independently of the things that cast them, but they might move in impossible ways or respond to actions around them.
Most of these don’t sound like very welcoming traits, and few people would likely choose a Mabaran manifest zone as a place to build their town. But there are reasons for doing it. We’ve established that in Karrnath, Blood of Vol communities often build temples in Mabaran manifest zones and perform rituals that help to contain the negative impact of the zone — and that some of the terrible famines in Karrnath were the results of soldiers seizing these towns and temples and failing to maintain these rites, resulting in sudden and dramatic blights. Beyond that, unnatural vegetation or minerals infused with Mabaran energy could have useful effects. In The Thorn of Breland books I talk about nightwater — water infused with Mabaran energy — as a common component used in disarming wards and magical traps.
So a Mabaran zone could be occupied by people trying to contain its effect or by necromancers channelling it; but often, they’re likely to be shunned areas in the wilds.
SCHEMES AND ADVENTURES
Do the denizens of Mabar ever have schemes that reach into Eberron? How could it play an interesting role in an adventure? One of the simplest ways is simply to work a manifest zone into a story. A necromancer has a tower in a blighted grove, and this empowers their magics and undead minions. The PCs take on the necromancer and defeat him. But when they return they discover that the necromancer’s work was holding the power of Mabar at bay, and the blight is spreading. Can they find a way to restore the balance? What if someone has to stay in the tower? Does one of the villagers have the talent? Or do they need to find another necromancer willing to hold the post – and can they trust her with this power?
Manifest zones could inspire many stories or interesting encounters.
Shadholt is a small village hidden in the woods of Karrnath… a village populated almost entirely by Mabaran tieflings. The tieflings harvest vegetation and dragonshards infused with Mabaran energies and can make interesting elixirs and items. Perhaps they simply wish to be left alone… but an encounter with superstitious foresters could lead to a conflict with the local warlord. What side will the PCs take? Are the tieflings innocent, or are they using the powers of Mabar to prey on their enemies? Or is Shadholt the source of an addictive drug that’s been spread ing across the region?
Passing across a moor, the PCs are set upon by the shadows of wolves and hawks. The following dawn, they discover that one of the PCs is missing their shadow… it’s been lost in the manifest zone. Do they need to go back and find it? If so, how? If not, what does it mean that the character no longer has a shadow?
The PCs discover that House Thuranni is experimenting with the potential of the Mark of Shadows, seeking to channel the power of Mabar. There’s a research center in a Mabaran manifest zone. What happens if the experiments work? Are the elves in full control of their powers? Or are they consumed by their own shadows, leaving dark hearts cloaked in flesh wielding terrifying powers?
Overall, the denizens of Mabar have no interest in Eberron; they have everything they need in Mabar and its fragments. However, just like the Daelkyr or the Kalashtar Quori, you could have an individual or small group of spirits that take an interest in Eberron. Here’s a few possibilities.
A disguised succubus is a scholar of loss, subtlely engineering disastrous tragedies for the people of a small community in order to study their reactions. Alternately you could take the same concept but she could be targeting powerful, successful individuals — such as player characters — instead of a particular place.
A small group of Yugoloths are studying the world and choosing the next location that will be consumed by Mabar. The consumption will happen, even if the Yugoloths are defeated… but can the damage be minimized?
A yugoloth artisan crafts artifacts and sows them into Eberron to cause death and despair. A weapon forged in Mabar could be a literal demon — a battleloth — or it could possess great power but bring tragedy to the one who wields it. A villain could cause great havoc with this night-forged blade; once the villain is defeated, will a PC claim the blade or leave it be?
A nightwalker has broken through into Eberron, turning a Mabaran manifest zones into a gateway. The dead are rising in response to the nightshade’s call, and it has a force of nightcrawlers and nightwings. The Nightwalker has no agenda other than destruction, despair, and drinking in the energy of the world. Where is this gateway? What will it take to close it and contain this threat?
Queen Dannel’s Cyre has been pulled into Mabar. There’s no way to reclaim it and return it to Eberron, but the now-vampire Dannel has a bigger goal. In Mabar, everything must end… even the yugoloth order. Dannel believes that she can overthrow the Empress of Shadows and become the new immortal overlord of the realm… but she needs the help of epic-level PCs to do it. Will they help transform Cyre into the new heart of the Endless Night?
The idea of the consumed fragments opens up another host of story possibilities.
Forced out into the wilds during a Mabaran coterminous period, the PCs find themselves in a strange land. This could be a familiar town that’s now suffering from dangers and threats; can the PCs figure out what’s going on, and if it can’t be stopped can they help friends escape? It could be a realm pulled out of history, time slowed by the process of assimilation — the last stronghold of Karrn the Conqueror or Malleon the Reaver. Or it could be something entirely new, like Ravenloft.
An angel of Syrania reaches out to the PCs. Something vital is trapped in a Syranian tower that was pulled into Mabar. If the angel goes to the fragment, it will be trapped there forever; but mortals could enter the fragment, retrieve the relic and escape. What is the relic? What else might they find in the lost tower?
Similar ideas could take the players into the heart of Mabar itself. What treasures are hidden in the tomb of the Queen of All Tears? What secrets lie in the scattered tomes of the Drifting Citadel?
All of these ideas are literally off the top of my head, and I’m sure you can come up with others. Share your ideas in the comments!
THE DEEP DUSK: PHOENIX DAWN COMMAND
Phoenix: Dawn Command doesn’t have the complex cosmology of D&D. The Dusk is the realm that lies between life and death, a realm of spirits and magic. When a Phoenix dies, they go to a crucible – a pocket realm within the Dusk where they can earn their way back to the Daylit World. But there’s more to the Dusk than most Phoenixes ever see. The greatest of the Fallen Folk may have their own domains within the Dusk, and there can be great mystical engines left over from the Old Kingdoms, or simply from the framework of reality.
Within Phoenix, there’s a few ways you could use the Endless Night. Perhaps the Phoenixes face a great force of darkness striking against a community of innocents — a Nightwalker leading a legion of hungry wraiths and animated corpses. Destroying this being requires the Phoenixes to join their power together, sacrificing all their sparks to drive it back into the dusk. But instead of waking in their crucibles, the Phoenixes find themselves in the Endless Night, pulled into it by the spirit they banished. Can they find a way to escape the Deep Dusk? And what happens if they die before they do?
You could also explore the idea of the hungry realm… to have a piece of the Empire pulled into the Endless Night while the PCs are defending it. The life is being drawn out of it, and shadows lash out at the innocent. Can they find a way to return this farm/village/city to reality? And again, what happens if a Phoenix dies in this place? Do they simply return to the Night? Are they seemingly gone forever… and if so, is this what actually happens or have they simply been returned to the Daylit World?
Another possibility is to explore the idea that the layers of the Endless Night are all pieces seized from the Daylit World. Perhaps the Endless Night was created as a way to avoid the doom of the Old Kingdoms, preserving communities in some fashion (albeit a dark one); now the threat of the Dread has brought this old magic back to life, and it’s going to start stealing cities anew.
How do Mabar and the Plane of Shadows both exist in the same cosmology while remaining distinct? What is the difference in themes between these two Planes? Can the Plane of Shadows have its own Manifest Zones?
This is spelled out on page 92 of the Eberron Campaign Setting. The entire reality of Eberron — including its thirteen planes — is enfolded by the astral plane; the ethereal and shadow planes encompass the material plane but don’t touch the other planes. The easy way to think of this is that the Shadow Plane is the darkness that lies between realities. It has no meaning as Mabar does; it is simply a dark space outside of reality. Spells like shadow walk let you use it as a shortcut through space, or even in theory as a conduit to move between realities. But it isn’t part of the creation of the Progenitors. It has no meaning and it doesn’t shape reality. It’s not part of the planar orrery, and as such it never becomes coterminous or remote and it doesn’t create manifest zones; it simply is.
A minor qualm, but it seems that Mabar as portrayed here ultimately prevails when it exceptionally interacts with other planes, as Syrania in the post. Yet, using the same example, after night comes dawn…
That’s exactly the point. The night consumes every day… and the dawn eventually overcomes each night. The section on “The Consuming Darkness” calls this out: Were it not for the Eternal Dawn, (The Endless Night) would eventually consume everything. But as the Night consumes, the Dawn restores, and so balance is ultimately maintained.”
The Endless Night embodies the idea of despair and the inevitable end. But the Eternal Dawn — in Eberron, Irian — embodies the idea of hope and the indomitability of life. Anything Mabar can consume, Irian can restore… though both of these things take time. But yes, Mabar will ultimately prevail against any fragment it consumes because that fragment has been pulled out of its own concept and into the Night, which is defined by that inevitable defeat.
Is it possible for there to be Mabaran celestials, or good-aligned spirits from Mabar? For that matter, are there any Irian fiends, or evil-aligned spirits from Irian?
Certainly, in both cases. But the point is that any spirit of the Endless Night is about the concept of death, loss, despair. If you can find a way to make a being who’s a positive embodiment of these things, it could be good. For example, you could have Small Mercies — little spirits that kill those who are suffering unendurable torment. Technically they’re good; they are helping those who suffer. But their tool is still death. You won’t have a spirit in Mabar that seeks to prevent death, because that’s something that belongs in Irian. Look at Shavarath: you have noble celestials fighting vile demons, but they are all fighting; you’re not going to find a spirit from Shavarath that thinks peace is a good idea, unless it’s the peace that will come when we win our noble battle against the enemy.
So any spirit of the Endless Night will somehow embody death or loss, entropy or despair. If you can think of the positive aspects of this and personify it, that could be a Mabaran celestial. Conversely, Irian is about life and love, new beginnings and hope. If you can find a way that these things could be negative, you could have an fiend that embodies that. Perhaps there’s a spirit that spreads false hopes… though again, if its ultimate goal was to cause despair, it would belong in Mabar. Meanwhile, in a fragment of Irian being consumed by Mabar you can have the embodiment of hope that is struggling against despair; and within a fully consumed layer, it might still exist as the embodiment of crushed hopes and disappointment.
With all of that said: Bear in mind that just as celestials can fall, fiends can also rise. In the same way that an angel can become a Radiant Idol or rebel Quori can become Kalashtar, you could have a yugoloth who defies their nature and purpose. However, like the Kalashtar Quori and the Radiant Idol, if they want to maintain that identity they’d likely have to flee from Mabar.
If Mabar is indeed Death itself, then how to the Seekers argue their use of its powers. Logically, the Undying Court would be right; however, it is important to the role of the Blood of Vol that they too would have arguments. I like the idea that they do their part to contain the spread of Mabar’s power in its manifest zones, but why wouldn’t they agree with the Court that Mabar is basically a hostile plane and not to be meddled with?
It’s like fire, or nuclear power, or electricity. All of these are dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing; when harnessed by someone who understands them, they can be used to do good. An educated priest of the Blood of Vol would certainly agree that the power of Mabar is inherently dangerous — as shown by their working to contain the danger posed by manifest zones — but that’s exactly the point: they can contain that danger. They believe that their knowledge and understanding allows them to use this dangerous power in a positive way, just as we are comfortable using electricity and nuclear power in our daily lives.
Looking to the Undying Court’s assertion that all use of Mabaran energy is a threat to the world, Aerenal is a fairly isolationist country and they haven’t blanketed the Five Nations with this view. Even if they did, it’s a perfect mirror to the issue of climate change. Aerenal has logic on their side: it’s energy from the plane of Death and look at what it does in manifest zones — why use it? The Blood of Vol takes the role of people who say that cleaner coal is the answer to climate change: they know what they’re doing, they’re not going to throw away a useful tool because of some crackpots, and they don’t see any proof that things are as bad as the elves say. Plus, given that the Undying Court eradicated the line of Vol they CLEARLY have a vendetta against the BoV and this argument is simply driven by that vendetta; they’re making up excuses to persecute the BoV. Don’t be misled!
Short form: Any cleric of the Blood of Vol will tell you the power they wield is dangerous, but generations of their ancestors have learned how to master that power and wield it safely. And any arguments that it’s poisoning the world are ridiculous — again, generations of their ancestors have used it safely.