Eberron Overview


Introduction

    Throughout this conversion, there are many references to campaign-specific material unique to Eberron. People, places, events, groups, etc. I will not attempt to detail all of this material in this conversion. For that, I would refer you to the material already published for Eberron, in particularly the Eberron Corebook, Five Nations and the Player's Guide to Eberron. However, much of what is covered in this conversion would loose a great deal of definition or impact if some campaign-specific information was not provided. Consider this to be an extremely high-level overview.

The World & Geography

    Eberron is a typical fantasy world, similar to Earth in size and with Earth-like climates and climate extremes. It revolves around a singular sun and rotates on a typical 24 hour period. While it does have thirteen moons, only twelve of them are visible in the night sky and only one of them is large enough to cause tidal effects. In geosynchronous orbit around the equator is the Ring of Siberys, a massive asteroid belt that is clearly seen at night, from which Siberys dragonshards fall. The majority of its land mass is divided into five continents, representing the width and breadth of climate variations.

    Khorvaire is the central continent where much of the campaign material comes from. It has been compared to the Eurasian continent in size and in relative terrain. It is here where the most advances in civilization, magic, technology, economics and culture have been made. In many ways, it resembles more like a magical version of early 1900's Europe than it does a medieval fantasy environment. Many technological advances that were common on Earth at the beginning of the 20th century are replicated with magic in Khorvaire. Elemental-powered transit systems crisscross the landscape. Communication and surveillance is done by way of divination. Massive cities built with populations surpassing the millions. And all of this combined with healthier-than-average degree of patriotism and national aggression makes this continent a very colorful powder keg.

    Xen'Drik is the major continent directly south of Khorvaire and is often referred to as a 'Lost Continent' or a 'Dark Continent'. Full of jungles, mountains, ancient ruins and dangerous monsters, it is a place where many adventurers seeking their fortune. Others look to hide, in the lawlessness of Xen'Drik and its few cities and towns. Once the proud home to the giants of a bygone age, the ruins of Xen'Drik are scaled for mightier races, where a single stair is over five feet tall. Tribes of their degenerate offspring still roam that dense jungles, clinging to a legacy that has left them behind. All the while, drow elves live on the surface in areas where the foliage is so thick that sunlight has not touched the jungle floor in millennia.

    Aerenal is a minor continent, between and the east of Khorvaire and Xen'Drik. Not much bigger than Australia (comparatively speaking), it is the home of the elves ever since they succeeded in freeing themselves from their giant masters millennia ago. Unlike elves of other campaign worlds, the elves of Eberron practice a form of ancestor worship where their elders are preserved in a state beyond life or death, watching over their living decedents. The Deathless make up the ruling body (and religious heart) of the Undying Court, which presides over all elves that left Xen'Drik, generations ago, and all of their generations since.

    Argonessen is a large, rocky continent, far to the southeast of Khorvaire and is known to be the home of dragons. Not just metallic dragons or chromatic dragons, but all dragons. They defend their border rigorously, allowing only those that worship them as deities or high lords to enter or leave. While many tribes of humans make their homes along the shoreline (like those of Seren Island and Totem Beach), what races live with and work for these creatures of legend is anyone's guess. All that is known for certain is that dragons there are ever-watchful for signs of their fabled mission; understanding The Draconic Prophecy

    Sarlona is the last continent on Eberron, just as far north and almost completely on the other side of the world from Khorvaire. It is rumored to be a place of great beauty and fabulous wealth, much like the Orient and Far East. And while getting there is dangerous enough, getting back is even more so. Home to Eberron's psionically active population, much of Sarlona is ruled over by The Inspired, a form of communist government that have the absolute devotion of the common people, due in no small part to their psychic influence. Behind the actions of the Inspired are the Quori, a race psychic outsiders that were banished long ago, only to return with the ability to possess those that dream.

Time & Calendar

    Eberron has 336 day year, separated into 12 months of exactly 28 days each. This is to be expected as Nymm, the largest of Eberron's moons, is always full on the first day of each month, making this a true lunar calendar. Each month has four weeks of seven days, detailed below. Most calendars, particularly those in Khorvaire, have the current year as 998 YK, being defined as 998 years since the Kingdom of Galifar was founded on Khorvaire. Sarlona, however, marks their calendar by the Unity of Reidra, which places the current year as 1200 Unity. What kind of calendars the dragons of Argonessen or the elves of Aerenal use (or the giants of Xen'Drik once used) is largely unknown.

Real World Equivalent Day of the Week  Real World Equivalent Month of the Year Associated Season Associated Dragonmark
Sunday Sul  January Zarantyr Mid-Winter Storm
Monday Mol  February Olarune Late Winter Sentinel
Tuesday Zol  March Therendor Early Spring Healing
Wednesday Wir  April Eyre Mid-Spring Making
Thursday Zor  May Dravago Late Spring Handling
Friday Far  June Nymm Early Summer Hospitality
Saturday Sar  July Lharvion Mid-Summer Detection
 August Barrakas Late Summer Finding
 September Rhaan Early Autumn Scribing
 October Sypheros Mid-Autumn Shadow
 November Artyh Late Autumn Passage
 December Vult Early Winter Warding

Themes & Aspects
    The world of Eberron is wide and complex, but there are certain themes that regularly appear through it. Here are some of the most notable.

Religion & Alignment

    The concept of alignment, as it is defined in core rule set, is a great deal fuzzier in Eberron. Unlike other campaign worlds, the alignment of a specific creature is in no way required to match what is typical of its kind. For example, while most red dragons are violent and hot-tempered, this does not mean that all of them are required to be Chaotic Evil. They are capable of choosing their own alignment just as any other sentient creature is. That being said, this also does not mean that all good-aligned creatures work together or even cooperate. What motivates a particular person has just as much, if not more, of an effect on their actions than their alignment. It is entirely possible (and not without precedent) of having two paladins, both Lawful Good, come to blows over differences of religion, nationality or personal politics.
    This difference in how alignment is handled also extends how the gods of Eberron treat their followers and vice verse. There is no alignment requirements to worshiping, or receiving divine assistance from, a specific deity. It possible to be an evil cleric of a good faith or chaotic follower of a lawful deity. The actual gods in Eberron also take a less-active role in the lives of their followers. While there are many faiths across Eberron, those that actually venerate a deity or pantheon do not see avatars of their god and only rarely see angels working on their behalf. As such, much of the exact opinions of the gods is left to conjecture. By contrast, there are many cults that worship mortal leaders. The entire elven faith of the Undying Court is made of a collection of revered elders that watch over their descendants from the capital of their island home.
    While alignment is still used in Eberron for the game mechanic purposes (detection, smiting, etc), many of the assumptions about who is good or evil and who is friend or foe gets tossed aside.

Dragonmarks, Dragonshards & The Draconic Prophecy

    It is said that when Eberron was created, it was done so after a battle between three progenitor dragons. Siberys, the Dragon Above, was slain by Khyber, the Dragon Below, and in response, Eberron, the Dragon Between, captured Khyber and bound the two of them into the planet known as Eberron. Whether this is true or false, what is known is that their offspring, the dragons of today, believe it as truth. For evidence, they point to dragonshards, rare and valuable crystals that are always found in one of three ways. Siberys dragonshards are always found in areas known to have meteor strikes and falling stars as the Ring of Siberys regularly looses smaller pieces. Eberron dragonshards are always found near the surface of the planet, in rock slides, exposed veins of rock and other natural outcroppings. Khyber dragonshards are always found deep underground, in places where lava flows and massive caverns are found.
    In the early days of Eberron, the dragons were besieged by fiends that came from other planes, looking for powerful slaves and vast riches. During the time of their enslavement, the dragons learned of patterns visible across the face of Eberron. Written in the bedrock of a mountain, the wisps of clouds or in the bed of a running river, these patterns were deciphered to be pieces of a great foretelling of events to come. One such event was the time when the dragons would overthrow their fiendish masters. Since that event, eons ago, the dragons have referred to this phenomenon as The Draconic Prophecy, also simply known as The Prophecy. And while it can be misinterpreted, it is never wrong.
    As the mortal races began to appear and flourish, some of them began to bear similar marks of this Prophecy. While, individually, they were no more significant that a single letter in a massive legal library, together and over time, the dragons realized that the mortal races that bore these dragonmarks were people of significant importance. After all, it is only a single letter that separates 'word' from 'sword'. The mortals that have these marks learned of the magical properties they contained and have since built up entire noble families around the notion that those with dragonmarks are inherently more apt to rule than those without. While these marks do give their bearers a certain degree of aptitude, the dragonmarked houses have learned not push this issue too far or at least not with those that have other resources at their beck and call. The one exception is the Mark of Death, which originally appeared on a noble family of elves, but was wiped out to the last member through a combined effort of dragons and elves. The only remaining member with the Mark of Death is Lady Vol, a powerful lich that founded the Blood of Vol as a religious movement venerating the undead. Her undead state prevents her from passing on the Mark of Death to any new descendants.

The Planes & The Moons

    In addition to the Astral Plane, the Ethereal Plane and the Plane of Shadow, Eberron is 'adjacent' to thirteen other planes of existence; each with their own theme and threats. These planes cycle around Eberron, drawing closer (or coterminous) and moving away (or remote), metaphysically speaking, in semi-regular cycles. It is no coincidence that Eberron also a large number of moons. While Nymm, the largest and brightest, is the only one capable of exerting any significant tidal forces, they all move with the cycles of their associated planes, waxing and waning with strength as days turn into months and years into centuries, each tied to their appropriate plane.
    While there are thirteen planes to Eberron, only twelve of its thirteen moons are visible. The thirteenth plane, Dal Quor, was shunted long ago, during the Age of the Giants. It's corresponding moon has not been since and is largely unknown to even the most learned scholars. But it is still out there, somewhere, and the minions of Dal Quori, the quori, are bent on returning to Eberron, one way or another. In a similar fashion, the plane of Xoriat, also known as the Plane of Madness, was last coterminous some 9,000 years ago. The result was the swarming of the Daelkyr, creatures beyond madness or mortal power, who decimated the ancient goblinoid empire, the Dhakaani. Fortunately, their invasion was stopped, but not before their less powerful minions managed to escape into the countryside, giving rise to many of the aberrations of Eberron.

The Last War

    For almost a millennium, the continent of Khorvaire was united in a single massive kingdom, known as Galifar. It is from this founding that the Khorvaire calendar is founded. Ruled over by a royal human family for 900 years, their reach spanned to almost every corner of Khorvaire. Given a kingdom so large, it became necessary to have the king to grant his adult children rulership over their distinct areas, with the king ruling over them in turn. When one king passed, the eldest would assume the throne while his siblings continued to rule until the new monarch's children came of age.
    Or that was the way it was supposed to happen. 
    In 894, King Jorat passed away, but his eldest was challenged for the crown of Galifar. The aftermath of that single conflict led all of the siblings to turn on each other and for the next one hundred years, the continent of Khorvaire was racked by war the likes of which none had seen (save maybe the dragons). As the war went on, groups turned on each other and, eventually, what started as five siblings fighting for the crown turned into a dozen countries either defending their independence or attempting to take over their neighbors. While the war raged, the various dragonmarked houses remained largely neutral in the war, selling their various services to the nations that would pay the most. Leading this war-profiteering was House Cannith and their invention of a sentient, replicated foot soldier that could be trained to fight and replenish the ranks in months where normal soldiers might take years. These were the warforged and while their race may only be less than four decades old, their impact effected everyone in Khorvaire somehow.
    Then, as abruptly as the fighting started a century ago, it was forced to stop. On the 20th of Olarune in 994 YK, the nation of Cyre, located in central Khorvaire, was destroyed. Obliterated. Down to the last square inch of territory that Cyre held on that day. This would be known as the Day of Mourning and ever since, the grey, blasted wasteland that remains of this once great nation would be known as The Mournland. At the time, and even still years later, no one knew what could cause such widespread devastation. Some blamed a failed experiment of House Cannith, since their family home and many of their laboratories were located in Cyre. Others blamed the most fearsome of enemies of Cyre at the time, being Thrane and Karrnath. Others simply said it was the will of the gods. For whatever reason, the result was clear. In 996, an official peace treaty, known as the Treaty of Thronehold, was signed by all of the nations involved, except Cyre as it was destroyed and the monstrous nation of Droaam, out of sheer racism of the more 'civilized' nations.
    And thus, The Last War came to an end with no clear victor and no unified Khorviare.

Conspiracy & Pulp Action

    In the aftermath of the Last War and the sudden way it ended, Eberron is a world of intrigue. Simmering tensions build behind the facade of peace and everyone is looking for the next new advantage to turn the tide. The degrees of Thronehold left the warforged freed and banned House Cannith of making weapons of war (something that bankrolled much of their luxury). The Day of Mourning left a nation in ruins and its few survivors homeless. The armies of the remaining nations are slow to step down and turn their swords to plowshares, yet no one is immune to the uncertainty that if they are up to something, what might their enemies be doing in response. And all of this says nothing of the activities of those not on Khorvaire.
    Given the whole gambit of conflicts and confrontations, of deception and intrigue, of ancient mysteries and current politics, the world Eberron suits itself well for the type of pulp action that one can find in the radio shows of the early 1920's and 1930's and movies of the film noir genre. While it could be used for the standard dungeon crawl, or exploring distant lands just as well as any other campaign world, it gives both the GM and the players to open up new avenues of adventure, new twists and tactics. 

    I recommend using it to its fullest advantage.
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