Chapter 3: Races of Eberron
The Bazaar in Sharn is flooded with merchants and customers. An Aereni elf scowls behind a golden deathmask as she argues with a dwarf merchant. As a Talenta halfling makes his way through the crowd, people scramble to get out of the way of the barbarian’s reptilian mount. One creature holds his ground — a tall figure formed from steel and leather, who glares at the halfling with gleaming crystal eyes. This warforged spent twenty years on the battlefield, and it has no fear of the halfling warrior. Neither one noticed the changeling who stole the halflings purse, but she alters her features anyway, taking the form of an old man as she moves around the corner.
Eberron can be home to any of the creatures found across the multiverse of Dungeons & Dragons. Humans, gnomes, elves, and orcs have all made their marks on the continent of Khorvaire. However, the creatures of Eberron can be quite different from their counterparts on other worlds. The orcs of Eberron include druids and paladins who fight to defend the world from demons and aberrations. The Valenar elves are fierce warriors, and the Talenta halflings are brave nomads who cross the plains on dinosaur mounts.
This chapter provides an overview of the common races and their role in the world. It also presents four new races that were originally developed for the Eberron campaign setting.
- Changelings are clever shapeshifters that can disguise themselves as members of other races. Exceptional spies and rogues, they live in the shadows of humanity.
- Kalashtar are humans bound to spirits from the plane of dreams, imbued with wisdom and telepathic talent.
- Shifters draw on their distant lycanthropic heritage to manifest bestial traits for short periods of time. A diverse race shaped by the beasts within them, shifters often prefer the wilds to the civilized world.
- Warforged are artificial lifeforms built to fight in the Last War. Created as tools of battle, they must now find their place and purpose beyond the war.
Long ago there was a woman named Jes, and she had one hundred children. Her rivals conspired against her and swore to kill her children. Jes begged the Sovereigns for help, but their only answer was the wind and rain. In the depths of her despair, a lonely traveler took her hand. ‘I will protect your children if they follow my path. Let them wander the world. They may be shunned and feared, but they will never be destroyed.’ Jes agreed, and the traveler gave her his cloak. When she draped it over her children their old faces melted away and they could be whoever they wanted to be. And so it remains. Though the Children are shunned by all, the gift of the Traveler protects them still.
— Chance, changeling priest
A changeling can shift its face and form with a thought. Many changelings use this gift as a form of artistic and emotional expression, but it’s an invaluable tool for grifters, spies, and others who wish to deceive. This leads many people to treat known changelings with fear and suspicion.
Wherever humans can be found, there are changelings; the question is whether their presence is known.
Changelings are born to one of three paths. A few are raised in stable communities where changelings are true to their nature and deal openly with the people around them. Some are orphans, raised by other races, who find their way in the world without ever knowing another like themselves. Others are part of nomadic changeling clans spread across the Five Nations who keep their true nature hidden from the single-skins. Some clans maintain safe havens in major cities and communities, but most prefer to wander the unpredictable path of the Traveler.
In creating a changeling adventurer, consider the character’s relationships with people around them. Does the character conceal their true changeling nature? Do they embrace it? Do they have connections to other changelines or are they alone and in search of companions?
Masks and Personas
In their natural form changelings are slender and pale, with colorless eyes and silver-white hair. A changeling can alter its physical appearance with a thought. While this can be used to deceive others, it is a natural form of expression for the changeling. A changeling shifts shapes the way others might change clothes. A casual shape — one created on the spur of the moment, with no depth or history — is called a mask. A mask can be used to express a mood or to serve a specific purpose and then never used again. However, many changelings develop identities that have more depth. They build an identity over time, crafting a persona with a history and beliefs. This focused identity helps a changeling pinpoint a particular skill or emotion. A changeling adventurer might have personas for many situations, including negotiation, investigation, and combat. Personas can be shared by multiple changelings; there might be three healers in a community, but whoever is on duty will adopt the persona of Tek, the kindly old medic. Personas can even be passed down through a family, allowing a younger changeling to take advantage of contacts established by previous users of the persona.
A changeling might use a different name for each mask and persona and adopt new names as easily as they develop new faces. The true name of a changeling tends to be simple and monosyllabic; however, there are often accents to a changeling’s name that are expressed through shapeshifting, something single-skins will likely miss. So, two changelings might have the name Jin, but one is Jin-with-vivid-blue-eyes and one is Jin-with-golden-cheeks.
Changelings have a fluid relationship with gender, seeing it as one characteristic to change among many others.
Changeling Names: Bin, Cas, Dox, Fie, Hars, Jin, Lam, Mas, Nix, Ot, Paik, Ruz, Sim, Toox, Vil, Yug.
Your changeling character has the following traits.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 2. In addition, one ability score of your choice increases by 1.
Age. Changelings mature slightly faster than humans but share a similar lifespan—typically a century or less. While a changeling can transform to conceal their age, the effects of aging affect them similarly to humans.
Alignment. Changelings tend toward pragmatic neutrality, and few changelings embrace evil.
Size. Your size is Medium. To set your height and weight randomly, start with rolling a size modifier:
Size modifier = 2d4
Height = 5 feet + 1 inch + your size modifier in inches
Weight in pounds = 115 + (2d4 × your size modifier)
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Shapechanger. As an action, you can change your appearance and your voice. You determine the specifics of the changes, including your coloration, hair length, and sex. You can also adjust your height and weight, but not so much that your size changes. You can make yourself appear as a member of another race, though none of your game statistics change. You can’t duplicate the appearance of a creature you’ve never seen, and you must adopt a form that has the same basic arrangement of limbs that you have. Your clothing and equipment aren’t changed by this trait.
You stay in the new form until you use an action to revert to your true form or until you die.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and two other languages of your choice.
I am kalashtar, born of two worlds. Over a thousand years ago, my ancestor bound her bloodline to the spirit Kashtai, and I am a child of that union. Kashtai moves within me. Her memories come to me in dreams, and at times her voice whispers in the silence of my mind. As long as at least one of my sisters is alive, Kashtai will survive — and as long as she lives, she will fight il-Lashtavar.
— Lakashtai, servant of the light
The kalashtar are a compound race created from the union of humanity and renegade spirits from the plane of dreams — spirits called quori. Kalashtar are often seen as wise, spiritual people with great compassion for others. But there is an unmistakable alien quality to the kalashtar, as they are haunted by the conflicts of their otherworldly spirits.
Bound to Spirits
Every kalashtar has a connection to a spirit of light, shared by other members of their bloodline. Kalashtar appear human, but the spiritual connection affects them in a variety of ways. Kalashtar have symmetrical, slightly angular features. The eyes of a kalashtar often glow when it is focused on a task or feeling strong emotions.
The kalashtar can’t directly communicate with their quori spirits. A kalashtar might experience this relationship as a sense of instinct and inspiration, drawing on the memories of the spirit when they dream. This connection grants kalashtar minor psionic abilities, as well as protection from psychic attacks. All of these dream-spirits are virtuous, but some are warriors and others are more contemplative. Work together with the DM to determine the nature of the linked spirit. Typically, a kalashtar knows the name and nature of their spirit, but for some — for instance, an orphan kalashtar raised among outsiders — may know nothing of their spirit or the source of their psychic gifts.
The bond to the spirit can cause some kalashtar to display unusual quirks of behavior. You can roll or select a trait from the following table.
|1||You try to understand the motives and feelings of your enemies.|
|2||You prefer using telepathy over speaking aloud.|
|3||You feel a strong drive to protect the innocent.|
|4||You apply dream logic to mundane situations.|
|5||You discuss things out loud with your quori spirit.|
|6||You suppress your emotions and rely on logic.|
|7||You are strongly influenced by the emotions of those around you.|
|8||You prefer to find nonviolent solutions to problems whenever possible.|
|9||You are driven by a warrior spirit and will fight for any noble cause.|
|10||You are obsessed with Dreaming Dark conspiracies.|
Hunted by Nightmares
The virtuous spirits tied to the kalashtar fled from the dream-realm of Dal Quor to escape evil spirits that dominate the realm. The rebel quori believe that through meditation and devotion, they can change the fundamental nature of Dal Quor, shifting the balance from darkness to light. Most kalashtar communities focus on acts of devotion known as the Path of Light. But the dark powers of Dal Quor have their own plans on Eberron. Through the force known as the Dreaming Dark, these monsters manipulate the folk of Khorvaire to eliminate kalashtar whenever possible.
Many kalashtar defend themselves from the Dreaming Dark by focusing on devotion to the Path of Light but some among the kalashtar seek out the agents of the Dreaming Dark and oppose their plans, or protect the innocent however they can. Some kalashtar grow up isolated from others, knowing nothing about Dal Quor or the Dreaming Dark. Such orphans may use their abilities for personal gain or otherwise act against the virtuous instincts of their quori spirits; this can cause internal conflicts and violent mood swings.
A kalashtar name mixes a personal prefix to the name of the quori spirit within the kalashtar. Each spirit has a gender identity, but this might not match the gender identity of the kalashtar host. A female kalashtar may have what others would consider a masculine name, because she’s tied to a spirit with a masculine identity. Kalashtar orphans are unlikely to know the name of their spirit and take names from another source.
Male Quori Names: Hareth, Khad, Kosh, Melk, Tash, Ulad, Vash
Female Quori Names: Ashana, Ashtai, Ishara, Nari, Tana, Tari, Vakri
Kalashtar Names: Coratash, Dalavash, Dolishara, Halakosh, Khoratari, Koratana, Lanhareth, Molavakri, Nevitash, Sorashana, Torashtai, Valakhad, Vishara
Your kalashtar character has the following traits.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2, and your Charisma score increases by 1.
Age. Kalashtar mature and age at the same rate as humans.
Alignment. The noble spirit tied to a kalashtar drives it toward lawful and good behavior. Most kalashtar combine strong self-discipline with compassion for all beings, but some kalashtar resist the virtuous influence of their spirit.
Size. Your size is Medium. To set your height and weight randomly, start with rolling a size modifier:
Size modifier = 2d6
Height = 5 feet + 4 inches + your size modifier in inches
Weight in pounds = 110 + (1d6 × your size modifier)
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Dual Mind. You have advantage on all Wisdom saving throws.
Mental Discipline. You have resistance to psychic damage.
Mind Link. You can speak telepathically to any creature you can see, provided the creature is within a number of feet of you equal to 10 times your level. You don’t need to share a language with the creature for it to understand your telepathic utterances, but the creature must be able to understand at least one language.
When you’re using this trait to speak telepathically to a creature, you can use your action to give that creature the ability to speak telepathically with you for 1 hour or until you end this effect as an action. To use this ability, the creature must be able to see you and must be within this trait’s range. You can give this ability to only one creature at a time; giving it to a creature takes it away from another creature who has it.
Severed from Dreams. Kalashtar sleep, but they don’t connect to the plane of dreams as other creatures do. Instead, their minds draw from the memories of their otherworldly spirit while they sleep. As such, you are immune to spells and other magical effects that require you to dream, like dream, but not to spells and other magical effects that put you to sleep, like sleep.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common, Quori, and one other language of your choice.
Geth’s ancient heritage rose up from deep within him, spreading out from the core of his being. Some shifters manifested terrible claws, others massive fangs, still others astounding speed or heightened senses. Geth’s gift from his lycanthrope ancestors was sheer toughness. Strength seeped into his bones and flooded his flesh. His skin hardened, and his hair became coarse like an animal’s tough hide. A sense of invincibility spread through him. For the moment at least, he felt unstoppable!
— Don Bassingthwaite, The Binding Stone
Shifters are sometimes called the weretouched, as many believe that they are the descendants of humans and lycanthropes. They are humanoids with a bestial aspect; while they cannot fully change shape they can temporarily enhance their animalistic features — a state they call shifting. Whatever their origins, shifters have evolved into a unique race. A shifter walks on the knife’s edge between the wilds and the world around them. Do they embrace their primal instincts or the path of civilization?
The Beast Within
Early in childhood, a shifter forms a bond with a beast within: a totemic force that shapes their body and mind. Some shifters believe that these spirits are independent entities, and they may speak of Bear or Wolf as ancestors or guides. Most just see the beast within as a formidable expression of their inner nature, something that emerges over time as the shifter’s personality takes shape. The beast within is a pool of powerful instincts, and its influence is revealed by a shifter’s personality: a feline shifter may be cool and distant, driven by predatory instincts, while a shifter with a lupine spirit is drawn to find and protect a pack. When a shifter fully embraces this beast within they physically transform for a short time.
This beast within is reflected by the shifter’s subrace. Four subraces are especially common:
- Beasthide often signifies the bear or boar: stoic, stubborn and thick-skinned.
- Longtooth shifters typically have lupine traits and prefer to run with a pack.
- Swiftstride are often predatory and feline, but a swiftstride could also be a cunning rat who darts through the shadows.
- Wildhunt shifters are born from any creature that tracks its prey.
While the beast within certainly has a physical impact on a shifter, it has a spiritual and psychological effect. Two beasthide shifters share the same special ability, but if one has the aspect of the boar and the other is more like a bear, they’ll be quite different in personality. With any shifter, identifying the beast within is a crucial part of understanding the character.
Similar and Diverse
Shifters are similar to humans in height and build but are more naturally lithe and flexible. Their facial features have a bestial cast, with large eyes, flat noses, and pointed ears; most shifters also have prominent canine teeth. They grow fur-like hair on nearly every part of their bodies.
The traits of the beast within affect a shifter’s appearance as well. A swiftstride shifter may have catlike eyes and delicate build, while a beasthide shifter might be a massive brute built like a bear. While a shifter’s appearance might remind an onlooker of an animal, they remain clearly identifiable as shifters even when at their most feral.
The Journey Yet to Come
Shifters have a strong presence in the Eldeen Reaches, and they often live among humans and can be found in rural areas across Khorvaire. While they form powerful bonds to friends and kin, shifters place great value on self-reliance and freedom. It’s a shifter proverb to “always be prepared for the journey yet to come,” and most shifters strive to be ready for change or opportunity.
Shifters have a natural inclination toward classes with a primal connection. A shifter barbarian draws their rage from the beast within. A shifter ranger indulges their urge to wander and hunt. A shifter rogue harnesses their own predatory instincts. But shifters can pursue any path or faith.
Shifters have no language of their own and often live in blended communities. Their names typically overlap with the names of other cultures in their region. Many shifters prefer to keep their personal names for their friends and use “wandering names” with strangers. These are usually tied to a physical or personality trait.
Shifter Names: Badger, Bear, Cat, Fang, Grace, Grim, Moon, Rain, Red, Scar, Stripe, Swift, Talon, Whiskers, Wolf.
Your shifter character has the following traits.
Age. Shifters are quick to mature both physically and emotionally, reaching young adulthood at age 10. They rarely live to be more than 70 years old.
Alignment. Shifters tend toward neutrality, being more focused on survival than concepts of good and evil. A love of personal freedom can drive shifters toward chaotic alignments.
Size modifier = 2d8
Height = 4 feet + 6 inches + your size modifier in inches
Weight in pounds = 90 + (2d4 × your size modifier)
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Shifting. As a bonus action, you can assume a more bestial appearance. This transformation lasts for 1 minute, until you die, or until you revert to your normal appearance as a bonus action. When you shift, you gain temporary hit points equal to your level + your Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 temporary hit point). You also gain additional benefits that depend on your shifter subrace, described below.
Once you shift, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common.
Subrace. The beast within shapes each shifter physically and mentally. The four major subraces of shifter include: beasthide, longtooth, swiftstride, and wildhunt. Choose a subrace for your shifter.
Stoic and solid, a beasthide shifter draws strength and stability from the beast within. Beasthide shifters are typically tied to the bear or the boar, but this subrace could embody any creature known for its toughness.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2, and your Strength score increases by 1.
Natural Athlete. You have proficiency in the Athletics skill.
Shifting Feature. Whenever you shift, you gain 1d6 additional temporary hit points. While shifted, you have a +1 bonus to your Armor Class.
Longtooth shifters are fierce and aggressive, but they form deep bonds with their friends. Many longtooth shifters have canine traits that become more pronounced as they shift, but they might instead draw on tigers, hyenas, or other predators.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, and your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Fierce. You have proficiency in the Intimidation skill.
Shifting Feature. While shifted, you can use your elongated fangs to make an unarmed strike as a bonus action. If you hit with your fangs, you can deal piercing damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.
Swiftstride shifters are graceful and quick. Typically feline in nature, swiftstride shifters are often aloof and difficult to pin down physically or socially.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Charisma score increases by 1.
Graceful. You have proficiency in the Acrobatics skill.
Shifting Feature. While shifted, your walking speed increases by 10 feet. Additionally, you can move up to 10 feet as a reaction when a creature ends its turn within 5 feet of you. This reactive movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks.
Wildhunt shifters are sharp and insightful. Many are constantly alert, ever wary for possible threats. Others focus on their intuition, searching within. Wildhunt shifters are excellent hunters, and they also tend to become the spiritual leaders of shifter communities.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2, and your Dexterity increases by 1.
Natural Tracker. You have proficiency in the Survival skill.
Shifting Feature. While shifted, you have advantage on Wisdom checks, and no creature within 30 feet of you can make an attack roll with advantage against you, unless you’re incapacitated.
“Pierce was built by design, while you were built by accident,” Lakashtai said. “The soul is what matters, not the shape of the vessel.”
“What makes you think he has a soul?” Gerrion said.
“What makes you think you do?”
— Keith Baker, The Shattered Land
The warforged were built to fight in the Last War. The first warforged were mindless automatons, but House Cannith devoted vast resources to improving these steel soldiers. An unexpected breakthrough produced fully sentient soldiers, blending organic and inorganic materials. Warforged are made from wood and metal, but they can feel pain and emotion. Built as weapons, they must now find a purpose beyond the war. A warforged can be a steadfast ally, a cold-hearted killing machine, or a visionary in search of purpose and meaning.
Living Steel and Stone
Warforged are formed from a blend of organic and inorganic materials. Root-like cords infused with alchemical fluids serve as their muscles, wrapped around a framework of steel, darkwood or stone. Armored plates form a protective outer shell and reinforce joints. All warforged share a common facial design, with a hinged jaw and crystal eyes embedded beneath a reinforced brow ridge. A sigil is engraved into the center of the forehead; this is unique to each warforged. Beyond these common elements of warforged design, the precise materials and build of a warforged vary based on the purpose for which it was designed. A juggernaut warrior is a massive brute with a heavy steel frame, while a skirmisher can be crafted from wood and light mithral to grant it lithe and elegant movement.
While they’re formed from stone and steel, warforged are living humanoids. Resting, healing magic, and the Medicine skill all provide the same benefits to warforged that they do to other humanoids. A warforged can focus its mind on its body as it rests, adjusting its shape and form to assume one of a few defensive postures. A warforged who expects heavy combat might focus on durability, while during a time of peace they might be content to adopt a lighter, less aggressive form.
The warforged were built to serve and to fight. For most of their existence, warforged had a clearly defined function and were encouraged to focus purely on that role. The Treaty of Thronehold gave them freedom, but many warforged struggle both to find a place in the post-war world and to relate to the creatures that created them.
The typical warforged shows little emotion. Many warforged embrace a concrete purpose — protecting allies, completing a contract, or other pursuits — and devote themselves to this task as they once did to war. However, there are warforged who delight in exploring their feelings and their freedom. Most warforged have no interest in religion, but some embrace faith and mysticism, seeking higher purpose and deeper meaning.
The typical warforged has a muscular, sexless body shape. Some warforged ignore the concept of gender entirely, while others adopt a gender identity in emulation of creatures around them.
Whether due to some flaw in their creation or simple ignorance of how other creatures operate, warforged often acquire an odd personality trait or two. A warforged player can choose to roll or select a trait from the Warforged Quirks table.
|1||You analyze (out loud) the potential threat posed by every creature you meet.|
|2||You don’t understand emotions and often misread emotional cues.|
|3||You are fiercely protective of anyone you consider a friend.|
|4||You often say the things you are thinking aloud without realizing it.|
|5||You try to apply wartime tactics and discipline to every situation.|
|6||You don’t know how to filter your feelings and are prone to dramatic emotional outbursts.|
|7||You don’t understand clothing beyond its utility and assume that what a creature wears denotes its job and status.|
|8||You are obsessed with your appearance, and constantly polish and buff your armor.|
|9||You are deeply concerned with following proper procedures and protocols.|
|10||War is the only thing that makes sense to you, and you’re always looking for a fight.|
Warforged were assigned numerical designations for use in military service. Many of them adopted nicknames, often given to them by their comrades. As free individuals, some have chosen new names as a way to express their path in life. A few take on human names, often the name of a fallen friend or mentor.
Warforged Names: Anchor, Banner, Bastion, Blade, Blue, Bow, Church, Crunch, Crystal, Dagger, Dent, Five, Glaive, Hammer, Iron, Lucky, Mace, Pants, Pierce, Red, Rusty, Scout, Seven, Shield, Slash, Smith, Spike, Stone, Temple, Vault, Wall, Wood.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2, and one other ability score of your choice increases by 1.
Age. A typical warforged is between two and thirty years old. The maximum warforged lifespan remains a mystery; so far, warforged have shown no signs of deterioration due to age. You are immune to magical aging effects.
Alignment. Most warforged take comfort in order and discipline, tending toward law and neutrality. But some have absorbed the morality, or lack thereof, of the beings with which they served.
Size. Your size is Medium. To set your height and weight randomly, start with rolling a size modifier:
Size modifier = 2d6
Height = 5 feet + 10 inches + your size modifier in inches
Weight in pounds = 270 + (4 × your size modifier)
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Constructed Resilience. You were created to have remarkable fortitude, represented by the following benefits:
- You have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned, and you have resistance to poison damage.
- You don’t need to eat, drink, or breathe.
- You are immune to disease.
- You don’t need to sleep, and magic can’t put you to sleep.
Sentry’s Rest. When you take a long rest, you must spend at least six hours in an inactive, motionless state, rather than sleeping. In this state, you appear inert, but it doesn’t render you unconscious, and you can see and hear as normal.
Integrated Protection. Your body has built-in defensive layers, which can be enhanced with armor:
- You gain a +1 bonus to Armor Class.
- You can don only armor with which you have proficiency. To don armor, you must incorporate it into your body over the course of 1 hour, during which you remain in contact with the armor. To doff armor, you must spend 1 hour removing it. You can rest while donning or doffing armor in this way.
- While you live, your armor can’t be removed from your body against your will.
Specialized Design. You gain one skill proficiency and one tool proficiency of your choice.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.
“Gold is the gift of the mountains, but iron comes from blood and bone.”
— Mror Proverb
The origin of the dwarves is shrouded in mystery. Their legends say that they came to Khorvaire from a land of endless ice; some believe this to mean the arctic Frostfell, while others assert that the first dwarves must have come from the plane of Risia itself. Wherever they began, the dwarves established a mighty nation beneath the surface of Khorvaire. Tales speak of mighty artifacts and vast treasures crafted in the deeps, and of wars fought against the goblin Empire of Dhakaan. No one knows where the line lies between truth and story. The ancestors of the modern dwarves were exiles from this ancient kingdom, and the realm below was destroyed by the daelkyr. Bold adventurers can delve into the haunted darkness of the fallen kingdom… but legends are the only legacy modern dwarves have of this age of glory.
Dwarves of the Five Nations
Dwarves are spread across Khorvaire. Dwarf soldiers and engineers were part of the armies that united the Five Nations, and dwarf masons laid the foundations of the greatest cities of Galifar. While many of the dwarves of the Five Nations still speak the language of their ancestors, they feel a bond to the lands of their birth. A Brelish dwarf feels a deep, personal connection to the towers of Sharn or the great walls of Wroat; the typical dwarf is actually more patriotic than the average human of the Five Nations. This passion caused most dwarves to serve their nation in the Last War, at least for a time; this is the general basis of dwarven weapon training. Most dwarves also have a strong bond to their families, so to a dwarf, family and nation are two edges of the same blade.
As a dwarf of the Five Nations, consider how widespread your family is and where their roots lie. Are they soldiers? Priests or politicians? Architects or stonemasons? Are you close to your relatives or have you had a falling out — or potentially lost your kin in the Last War? Likewise, consider what you did in the war and how that reflects on your current actions. Were you a soldier, and if so, how did that service end? If not, did you serve your nation in another way, or did you turn your back on it?
Dwarves of the Mror Holds
The Mror Holds are discussed in chapter 2. One question to consider is why you’ve left the Holds. Whether you’re an heir of a noble clan or a simple guild artisan, what has drawn you away from your homeland? The Mror Past table provides a few ideas.
Dwarves and Dragonmarks
House Kundarak carries the Mark of Warding. In addition to providing all manner of security, House Kundarak dominates the banking industry.
|d6||Reason for Leaving|
|1||A feud with a rival clan has gotten out of hand, and it’s best that you leave the Holds for a few decades.|
|2||You’re in a large family and there’s no room for you to shine in your hold; you hope to prove yourself in the wider world.|
|3||Your clan has arranged your marriage and your future; you’ve decided to have a few adventures before you settle down.|
|4||You’re pursuing a vendetta with a personal rival. Are you seeking to defeat them in battle or in business?|
|5||You’re searching for a legendary dwarven artifact, removed from the Mror Holds centuries ago by a Karrnathi noble.|
|6||You want to assemble a band of champions who can help you explore the ancient ruins beneath your ancestral home.|
Caerys held her double blade in the falcon guard, level with her shoulders and spreading out like wings. “I came in search of legends. Ten thousand years ago Daealyth of Taeri stood this ground and faced your ancestors, and twenty fell before his singing blades. You are no Dhakaani of old, and a mere twenty of you will bring no honor to the Taeri.”
The warlord hissed in fury, and his flail flashed in the firelight. The chain wrapped around Caerys’ blade but she twisted away. The flail flew into the darkness. She spun forward, her double blade weaving a circle of fire as she danced toward the chieftain. In a moment the song of steel was over.
Caerys watched as the warlord fell to the ground. With a contemptuous snap of her wrist, she flicked the blood from her blade into the eyes of the stunned onlookers. She smiled behind her spirit veil, counting the blades arrayed against her.
“But forty will.”
Elven culture began on the distant continent of Xen’drik. Tens of thousands of years ago, the elves rose up against the giants who ruled that land. Ultimately, the elves fled from Xen’drik and settled the island nation of Aerenal. There they split into two distinct cultures: the introspective Aereni and the warlike Tairnadal. While neither of these cultures have much interest in human activities, a small number of elves have immigrated to Khorvaire over the years and have integrated with the cultures of the Five Nations.
As a whole, elves are driven by tradition and respect for the past. Where humans value innovation, elves strive to perfect the techniques of their ancestors. With centuries to devote to their studies, the elves are masters of their chosen crafts; at the same time, their society has changed very little over the last five thousand years, while Khorvaire is constantly evolving. As an elf, consider your relationship with the past. Do you value the traditions of your ancestors? Or do you fear that your people are too mired in the past, and need to find a way forward?
Elves of Aerenal
Aerenal is ruled by the Undying Court, a council of undead elves sustained by positive energy. The Undying Court wields godlike power and has protected your island home for thousands of years. The greatest heroes of your people join the Undying Court after death; if you achieve great things in your life, you too could achieve this immortality.
The Aereni are isolationists who have little interest in the world beyond their island. The Five Nations are a place of chaos and war. With this in mind, what has caused you to leave your island and wander the world? Are you in search of a power that could earn you your place in the Undying Court? Have you been given a quest by one of your own deathless ancestors? Or are you an exile, banished from your homeland for some crime against the Undying Court?
As one of the Aereni, think about your history. What is your family known for, and how can you prove yourself to be a master of these skills? Do you have ancestors in the Undying Court, and if so, what’s your relationship with them? Do you find dealing with the short-lived races to be a challenge, or are you patient with them?
The Valenar and Aereni are physically similar but culturally distinct. Aereni are typically high elves, while Valenar are usually wood elves; but both of these subraces are options in these cultures. The Aereni place greater importance on perfecting a single skill than on training with weaponry, while the Valenar take pride in their skill with scimitars. These elves have a racial trait in place of the Elf Weapon Training trait. If your DM allows it, your elf character can forgo Elf Weapon Training and instead take the elf trait based on their culture:
An Aereni elf can choose one skill or tool proficiency. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses this chosen proficiency.
A Valenar elf gains proficiency with the scimitar, double scimitar, longbow, and shortbow.
Elves of Valenar
Your people are dedicated to the arts of war. Millenia ago, your ancestors fought an epic war against mighty giants. When they came to Khorvaire, they battled the champions of the goblin empire. The greatest heroes of those struggles live on after death, known as the patron ancestors. When you became an adult, one of the patron ancestors formed a bond with you. Now it is your duty to follow in the footsteps of your patron, living your life as they lived theirs, allowing this champion to live on through you. This is why your people constantly seek out conflict; you need to find challenges worthy of a hero.
In creating a Valenar, think about your patron ancestor. Your class should reflect their class; if you’re a wizard, your ancestor was likely a legendary archmage. If you’re a ranger, was your ancestor a famous blademaster, or a stealthy hunter? Was your ancestor chivalrous or merciless? Bold or clever? Whatever their nature, it’s your duty to follow their example. Is this something you proudly embrace, or do you resist it? Each patron ancestor is tied to many Valenar: do you have a particular rival who channels the same ancestor, or one who channels a rival of your ancestor?
It’s also important to think about why you are traveling with a group of player characters instead of serving in a Valenar warband. Are you driven by visions from your patron ancestor? Are you pursuing an epic quest that mirrors their legendary deeds? Do you seek vengeance for the death of a friend or ally? Or have you turned away from your people, either by choice or because of the actions of a rival?
Valenar Double Scimitar
The double scimitar is the signature weapon of Valenar elves. A haft of fine wood supports a long blade on either end. Forged with techniques honed over tens of thousands of years, these blades are strong, sharp, and remarkably light. Each scimitar is a masterpiece, and as a result the double scimitar is an expensive weapon, but few people ever have an opportunity to purchase one. If you’re an elf, your blade could have a long and storied history. If you’re not an elf, you might have stolen the weapon from a fallen foe or received it from a dying Valenar ally. If you work with your DM to create the story behind your double scimitar, you can start with the weapon at 1st level in place of a martial weapon normally granted by your class. However, it can be dangerous for a non-elf to carry a double scimitar. Valenar may demand its return or challenge you to prove that you’re worthy to wield it.
Special. If you attack with a double-bladed scimitar as part of the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action immediately after to make a melee attack with it. This attack deals 1d4 slashing damage on a hit, instead of 2d4.
Double-bladed Scimitar: Martial Melee Weapon
|Double-bladed Scimitar||100 gp||2d4 slashing||6 lbs||Special, two-handed|
Feat: Revenant Blade
You are descended from a master of the double-bladed scimitar, and some of that mastery has passed on to you. You gain the following benefits:
- Increase your Dexterity or Strength score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- While you are holding a double-bladed scimitar with two hands, you gain a +1 bonus to Armor Class.
- A double-bladed scimitar has the finesse property when you wield it
Elves of Khorvaire
Throughout history, elves have occasionally immigrated to Khorvaire — some by choice, some through exile. Many of the finest wizards in the Five Nations are high elves, along with renowned artisans. Wood elves are found among the rangers and druids of the Eldeen Reaches, though you could just as easily be a wood elf who hunts in the darkest alleys of Sharn. Subrace is a matter of aptitude as opposed to genetics, and the people of Khorvaire will see you only as an elf.
As an elf in Khorvaire, you have grown up among short-lived races. You may not be as concerned with history and tradition as the Aereni and Valenar; you could even live your life entirely in the moment, with no care for your family or your legacy. Nonetheless, you may have outlived many human friends; how does that affect you? Did you know the parents or grandparents of another member of the party… and if so, might you be trying to repay a debt to that long-dead friend? Do you remember a time before the Last War? Did you fight in the war, and if so, for which side?
The Drow of Eberron
During the ancient war between giants of Xen’drik and their elf slaves, the magebreeders of the giants bound the essence of shadows into the loyal elves. These were the first drow, assassin bred to fight prey on their sunlit kin. The drow were made to kill elves, and while thousands of years have passed, a deep enmity remains between them.
The drow remained on Xen’drik and were caught in the collapse of its civilizations. Today they linger in the shadows of Xen’drik and are all but unknown on Khorvaire. There are three distinct drow cultures. The Vulkoori are tribal hunters who worship totem spirits, especially the scorpion Vulkoor. They hunt giants and may threaten anyone who travels in the shattered land. The Sulatar live in obsidian cities and wield powerful fire magic; they seek to one day unleash fire across the world. And the Umbragen live in the underworld below Xen’drik, wielding sophisticated shadow magics as they battle against aberrations and the daelkyr.
Most of the people of Khorvaire have never seen a drow, and you likely know little about the Five Nations. As a drow PC, are you a Vulkoori hunter who somehow made your way to Khorvaire — a primitive warrior finding your way in this strange new world? Are you an Umbragen shadow-wielder seeking powers that can help your people in their endless war? Or a Sulatar fire-binder pursuing a personal path to glory? Do you despise elves you encounter and seek out conflict, or are you willing to forget the ancient war between your people?
CORELLON AND LOLTH
The elves of Eberron weren’t created by the gods you may know from other settings. In Eberron, the Sulat Giants created the drow as a weapon to fight the rebellious elves: there is a lingering enmity between drow and elf, but it’s not driven by the influence of Lolth. Meanwhile, the elves revere their ancestors — many of whom still linger and guide them — as opposed to distant gods.
This is an opportunity to explore these traditional races in a new light. However, if you want to incorporate Corellon and Lolth, there’s a few ways to do it. One possibility is that Eberron was created as a copy of the distant realms of the multiverse, hidden away to prevent the gods from influencing it. As such, while the drow of Eberron have no knowledge of Lolth, if she found her way through the Ring of Siberys and into Eberron, she might be able to poison their hearts and turn them to her service.
Alternately, you could present both Corellon and Lolth as legendary champions from the past. Corellon could be one of the great heroes and patron ancestors of the Valenar, or one of the leaders of the Undying Court; while Lolth could be the legendary first commander of the drow, whose spirit lingers and hungers for revenge.
Ultimately, it’s a question of the story you want to tell. Do you want to preserve the unique cultures of Eberron? Incorporate Corellon and Lolth into those cultures organically? Or explore the idea of these powers just discovering Eberron and awakening hidden memories in the blood of elf and drow?
Elves and Dragonmarks
The elven houses of Phiarlan and Thuranni carry the Mark of Shadow. They control the business of espionage throughout Khorvaire, but they also operate more legitimate businesses related to art and entertainment. Once they were a single house, but they split during the Last War; now they are ruthless competitors in both espionage and entertainment.
“Five words can defeat a thousand swords.”
— Zil proverb
Gnomes possess a love of knowledge that many would describe as lust. Most gnomes hate physical violence and prefer to solve their problems with words — whether that’s a wizard’s word of power or a rogue’s careful threat. The common view of the gnome is that of a friendly busybody, always ready to lend a hand or share a story. But in fact, that cheerful gnome is often gathering information that could one day be useful.
Gnomes of Zilargo
It would be an exaggeration to say that every Zil gnome is a ruthless schemer. But intrigue is the favorite pastime of the Zil. As a Zil gnome, you’ve been taught to manipulate and deceive since childhood. You’ve been involved in dozens of schemes and feuds, and you’re likely still tied up in a few of them (consult the Zil Schemes table). Even if you have a good heart and noble goals, you may still prefer to use trickery and cunning instead of relying on honesty or brute force.
Zil gnomes typically use the forest gnome subrace. The natural illusionist trait is a part of daily life in Zilargo, used both for entertainment and for trickery. The Thurimbar rod is a common magic item that amplifies this natural gift for purposes of creating music. The power to speak with small beasts is likewise something often put to practical use, and the Zil often use small animals as messengers or guides. While Zil gnomes don’t automatically have proficiency with Deception or Persuasion, these skills are common in Zil society; you could take the charlatan or criminal background as a way of reflecting your Zil upbringing.
As a player character, one question is why you’ve left Zilargo and what ties you still have to it. You could be a sage gathering information for the Library of Korranberg, or an investigator sending stories of your adventures back to the Korranberg Chronicle. Family is very important to the Zil, and you could be pursuing the interests of your family… or seeking to interfere with the plans of a rival family. You could even be working for the mysterious Trust, the conspiracy that maintains order in Zilargo. If you are working for the Trust, you could have a specific mission, but you could also be a sleeper agent — gathering information and allies and waiting for the day when your skills will be put to use.
|1||Your family is working on a new form of elemental binding, but they need Khyber dragonshards — lots of them.|
|2||You have a mysterious contact who sends you missions via sending; when you follow their instructions, you invariably receive a reward.|
|3||You’ve acquired a plot of land in Xen’drik. You’ve never been there, and if you don’t visit it within a year, you’ll lose the claim.|
|4||Due to an unusual twist of Triumvirate law, you share the same name with a number of other Zil and you’re all legally considered to be the same person.|
|5||You’ve acquired a spellshard that contains a vast amount of text in a seemingly unbreakable code.|
|6||You know the location of a wanted war criminal. Will you turn them in, or try to get something in exchange for your silence?|
|7||You’ve been selling false treasure maps. But now you’ve found one that might be real.|
|8||You’ve acquired a controlling stake in a distant dragonshard mine, but the mine was abandoned centuries ago due to “problems.” Kobolds? Aberrations? There’s only one way to find out.|
|9||Your family is facing financial ruin and they’ve taken out a lucrative life insurance policy on you. It only pays out if you die under unusual circumstances, and they’re encouraging you to seek out ever more dangerous adventures.|
|10||You’re peddling a life extension scheme where clients are petrified by a medusa and then restored after a predetermined amount of time.|
Zil society is divided into major houses, each of which is composed of multiple families. Each gnome has three names: their personal name, their family name, and their house name. For example, Alina Lorridan Lyrris and Tallian Talius Lyrris are members of different families within House Lyrris. Gnomish names are long and lyrical; a Zil proverb claims “the sweetest song is the name of a friend.” Personal and clan names average three syllables in length, and there is a strong tradition of alliteration.
Male Names: Alian, Castar, Dorius, Elymar, Haliar, Hasal, Illian, Jassian, Lassius, Sanadal, Tallian, Torius
Female Names: Alina, Cassia, Dalia, Jandia, Lysse, Myssia, Ranadala, Saralyssa, Talina, Tandria, Tassi, Vassilia
Family Names: Alyre, Alysse, Canatar, Del, Dorian, Hal, Josilyn, Kan, Lin, Lorridan, Lyrriman, Sil, Suvius, Syrralan, Talius, Til, Torralyn
Clan Names: Adredar, Clebdecher, Dalian, Davandi, Harlian, Hebberdesh, Korrian, Lonadar, Lyrris, Nezzelech, Santiar, Tarliach
Gnomes of the Five Nations
Gnomes are found across the Five Nations, and most are well-integrated into the local cultures. Gnomes are often encountered as merchants, magewrights, chroniclers, scholars, and scoundrels. While the gnomes of the Five Nations aren’t as inherently devious as their Zil cousins, family is usually important to them. You may have a network of old favors and connections to the community you grew up in. But you might also have chosen to find your own path in life, avoiding the intrigues your cousins adore.
Gnomes and Dragonmarks
The gnomes of House Sivis carry the Mark of Scribing. Members of the house are scribes and notaries, but they also maintain the sending stones that facilitate long-distance communication in Khorvaire.
“I’m not ‘half’ anything. You humans come from Sarlona. The elves are from Aerenal. Me? I’m a true child of Khorvaire.”
— Nandon Tam, Khoravar activist
Half-elves are spread across Khorvaire, from the Towering Woods of the Eldeen Reaches to the slums of Sharn. New half-elves are born in every generation as a result of pairings between humans, elves, and half-elves, and these newborns typically cling to the cultures of their parents. However, over the course of centuries half-elves have developed their own communities and traditions; this sense of identity has been strengthened by the rise of House Lyrandar and House Medani.
In making a half-elf character, think about whether you were born into a Khoravar community, or if you were born to parents of different races. Is your half-elf identity a source of pride, or something that has been difficult for you? The elves of Aerenal have never allowed a half-elf into the Undying Court, and the Valenar elves don’t consider half-elves to be capable of channeling a Valenar ancestral spirit.
When two half-elves conceive, the child is always a half-elf. Over the course of generations, families and communities of half-elves have developed their own cultural identity. Members of these families generally dislike the term “half-elf;” they call themselves Khoravar, an Elven term meaning “children of Khorvaire.”
Khoravar culture places a strong emphasis on generosity and hospitality toward other Khoravar. You aren’t expected to put yourself in danger for a stranger, but when possible, half-elves do what they can to help other Khoravar and to share information. Khoravar communities have weekly unity dinners where local news and events are shared; if you’re playing a half-elf, a unity dinner is a good opportunity for you to hear about local events and rumors. Of course, this is a double-edged sword; should you gain a reputation as a capable adventurer, Khoravar in need may approach you and ask for your assistance.
Khoravar speak both Common and Elven, and among themselves they often blend these two together. This pidgin makes perfect sense to anyone who speaks both languages, but someone who only speaks one of the two languages could have to make an Intelligence check (DC 10) to understand the full meaning of a statement.
While some Khoravar prefer to follow their own paths, many espouse the idea of “the bridge between:” encouraging Khoravar to facilitate communication and cooperation between members of different cultures or species. Such Khoravar often become mediators, diplomats, translators, or bards. Others are fascinated by their distant connection to the Fey, becoming Greensinger druids or warlocks bargaining with Archfey. As a Khoravar, do any of these paths appeal to you?
Half-Elves and Dragonmarks
Half-elves families carry two dragonmarks. House Medani holds the Mark of Detection, and offers services related to investigation, threat assessment, and security. House Lyrandar carries the Mark of Storms. Lyrandar has long dominated the shipping industry, and the recent development of the airship has increased its power and potential. House Lyrandar presents itself as a pillar for the Khoravar, and even if you don’t have a dragonmark you could work for the house, whether as a sailor or a house agent.
“We’re hunters in a world of sheep.”
— Kalaash’arrna, Tharashk Inquisitive
Half-orcs can be found anywhere orcs and humans meet. The Ghaash’kala orcs of the Demon Wastes are devout servants of the Silver Flame who devote their lives to containing the evils of the Wastes; as a half-orc paladin, you might have been sent south on a divine mission, hoping your human blood will help you deal with these soft creatures. You could be the orphan child of an unusual pairing, forced to find your own way in the world. But the greatest concentration of half-orcs is in the Shadow Marches, where humans and orcs have coexisted for centuries. With the rise of the dragonmarked House Tharashk, orcs and half-orcs have spread out through the Five Nations and beyond.
Overall, the people of the Five Nations know little about half-orcs. The archetype of the Tharashk half-orc is that of a bounty hunter or inquisitive, though there’s also a touch of “simpleton from the swamps.” People may be uneasy around you or assume that you know little about the ways of civilization. With that said, while orcs are typically seen as primitives who live on the fringes of civilization, in Eberron orcs aren’t inherently EVIL. People may be afraid of you because they think you’re a dangerous bounty hunter, but there’s no immediate assumption that you’re cruel or bloodthirsty… Most of the time.
Half-Orcs of the Shadow Marches
Where the people of the Five Nations know little of your kind, in the swamps of the Shadow Marches half-orcs are celebrated. Human refugees settled in the Shadow Marches centuries ago, and the first half-orcs helped to cement the bond between these outsiders and the native orcs. Many Marchers feel that the half-orc carries the best traits of both races, with the strength of the orc and the cunning of the human.
The rise of House Tharashk has brought prosperity to the Marches. Many of the Marcher clans work for the house in some capacity, and you could be an agent of the house even if you don’t carry the Mark of Finding, working as a bounty hunter or a clever investigator. But there are other paths you could follow.
- The Gatekeeper druids of the Shadow Marches have defended Eberron from aberrations and the daelkyr for thousands of years. As a druid, ranger, or barbarian, you could be a Gatekeeper initiate pursuing a quest in the wider world.
- The Cults of the Dragon Below also have deep roots in Shadow Marches. While cultists are often evil, the main thing about the Cults is that their beliefs generally seem like madness to others. You could be a half-orc barbarian who’s ventured beyond the Marches so you can find worthy enemies; slaying powerful foes is the only way to earn your passage to the paradise that lies within the heart of the hollow world. This is also a logical path for a warlock using the Great Old One pact.
- You could be a simple hunter from the Shadow Marches. You might have fought as a mercenary in the Last War, or you could be seeking your fortune or a real challenge in the world that lies beyond.
Half-Orcs and Dragonmarks
The half-orcs of House Tharashk carry the Mark of Finding. House Tharashk licenses bounty hunters, inquisitives, and prospectors; if you want something found, turn to Tharashk.
“Zombies? Minotaurs? Those things don’t scare me at all. But a howling halfling warrior charging you on a clawfoot raptor? Most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen.”
— Sir Danton ir’Lain, Brelish knight
The halflings of Eberron began in the east of Khorvaire, and nomadic tribes still wander the Talenta Plains. However, many halflings followed their dragonmarked houses into the lands to the west, and they’ve been a part of the Five Nations since before the rise of Galifar.
In Eberron, halfling subraces represent personal aptitude as opposed to genetics. Most halflings are lightfoot, especially in the Talenta Plains, but stout halflings can be found in any community. Ghostwise halflings are extremely rare; in the Talenta Plains they are considered to be touched by the spirits and often become respected druids, while in the Five Nations they are generally seen as oddities.
Halflings and Dragonmarks
Halflings carry two dragonmarks. House Jorasco carries the Mark of Healing and dominates the business of medicine. House Ghallanda holds the Mark of Hospitality and runs inns, hostels, and taverns across Khorvaire.
Halflings of the Five Nations
Halflings can be found in every city in Khorvaire. Quick and charming, halflings are often found as merchants, politicians, barristers, and bards. Of course, these same talents are useful for grifters and other criminals.
Most notably, the halflings of the Boromar Clan are the most powerful criminal organization in Breland. They are based in Sharn, but their influence can be felt across the nation and even in the distant city of Stormreach. If you decide to play a halfling rogue — or any character with a criminal or charlatan background — you should decide if you have a connection to the Boromar Clan, and discuss this with your DM. You could be a freelance operative who occasionally gets jobs from a Boromar underboss. You could have a cousin in the Boromar Clan, who occasionally pulls you into their problems. Or you could even be the reluctant heir of a powerful Boromar leader; you’ve gone on the run rather than taking your place in this criminal empire, but someday your past may catch up with you.
The Talenta Plains and its people are described in chapter 2. As a Talenta halfling, a critical question is why you’ve left the Plains. Perhaps you served as a mercenary scout in the Last War and you’ve remained with the comrades you met in the conflict. Maybe your tribe was wiped out by a foreign enemy — the Aurum, the Emerald Claw — and you are traveling the wider world in search of information and revenge. Perhaps you’re guided by the spirits, who send you whispers and visions driving you on your adventures. You could be an official envoy of your tribe seeking allies in the world, or simply sent to learn more about the lands beyond the plains. Are you amazed by the wonders of the Five Nations and their everyday magic, or do you take the world of the big folk in stride? The Talentan Halfling Quirks table provides ways to reflect your outsider perspective.
Dinosaurs play an important role in Talentan culture. How does this affect you? Do you have a clawfoot companion? As a druid you can assume dinosaur forms; as a monk you could use fighting styles based on different dinosaurs. Likewise, in playing a Beast Totem barbarian or Circle of the Shepherd druid, consider replacing the traditional totems with the following.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) slashing damage.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (2d4 + 3) piercing damage.
Talenta Halfling Quirks
|1||You are constantly amazed by things the people of the Five Nations take for granted.|
|2||You pattern your behavior on a particular species of dinosaur.|
|3||You are extremely curious, and you’re always searching for new experiences.|
|4||You love to boast, and you’re always telling exaggerated stories of your amazing adventures.|
|5||You wear a mask that you believe holds the spirit of your former mount, and you talk to it when you are troubled.|
|6||You don’t understand the concept of “truth.” To you, everything is a story and it’s all about how you tell it.|
|7||You are annoyed by buildings and tools designed without consideration for small creatures.|
|8||You seek vengeance for a wrong done to your tribe or family.|
|9||You never forget an insult or injury.|
|10||You see the hand of the spirits in everything that occurs around you.|
“The dwarf is stoic. The elf is wise. The gnome is cunning. And humans? They can’t make up their mind, so they try to be all of these things at once.”
— Kessler, Sharn bard
Humans have dominated Khorvaire for thousands of years. They founded the Five Nations and make up the majority of the population in these countries. Despite their relatively short lifespan — or perhaps because of it — humans are innovative, adaptable, and aggressive, always pushing their limits and pursuing new ideas.
Humans are extremely diverse; a barbarian from the Demon Wastes has little in common with a Brelish rogue. When you’re creating a human character, consider where you’re from and how that’s reflected in your class and background. Chapter 2 presents an overview of the nations of Khorvaire and ideas for characters tied to those nations. However, these are ideas — not restrictions. Aundair is a logical origin for a wizard, but your wizard could be a down-and-out arcanist from the alleys of Sharn or a Lhazaar pirate with a knack for the mystic arts.
The variant human presented in the Player’s Handbook provides an additional opportunity to capture some of the flavor of Eberron. Does your choice of skill proficiency and feat reflect the culture you were raised in?
Humans and Dragonmarks
Humans possess a wide range of Dragonmarks, and their houses are spread across Khorvaire. House Cannith is one of the most powerful houses, creating both magic and mundane items with the Mark of Making. House Orien maintains the Lightning Rail and trade caravans that run across the continent. House Deneith brokers the services of bodyguards and mercenaries. House Vadalis uses the Mark of Handling to breed fine mounts and other creatures. House Tharashk produces bounty hunters, prospectors, and inquisitives.
The races described so far are those commonly found in the Five Nations. However, there are many other creatures in the world. Here’s a brief overview of some of these other races and what you might do with them. It’s always up to the DM to decide if an unusual race is an option for player character; there’s a place for dragonborn in Eberron, but if a DM doesn’t want to use them in a campaign, they remain hidden and unknown.
In Eberron, aasimar aren’t a race as such. Rather, each aasimar is a unique individual touched by a celestial power. An aasimar bound to the Silver Flame has a couatl as an angelic guide, driving it to protect the innocent from supernatural evil. An archon from Shavarath could exhort its aasimar to fight tyranny and injustice in the name of Dol Arrah, while an angel from Syrania might encourage its aasimar to seek out knowledge and uphold the law as a servant of Aureon. On the other side of things, a fallen aasimar could have a bond to a spirit of Mabar or a cruel fiend from Shavarath. An aasimar could even be an elf channeling the power of the Undying Court, though they’d possess the standard aasimar traits in place of any elf traits.
The appearance of an aasimar will depend on the nature of their angelic guide. An aasimar might appear to be a normal human or elf until they unleash their celestial gifts. Most people have heard stories of aasimars, but have never actually met one.
Tens of thousands of years ago the dragons of Argonnessen established a garrison of dragonborn in what is now Q’barra. These warriors were assigned to protect the region against the influence of the Lords of Dust. Over time they drifted away from their duties, building an empire in western Khorvaire and clashing with the Dhakaani goblinoids. This came crashing down when one of the ancient Overlords stirred, unleashing fiends and corrupting many of the dragonborn themselves. Their empire collapsed and the dragonborn retreated to the darkness of Q’barra. They have remained their ever since, fighting the forces of the Poison Dusk and guarding against further corruption.
To date the dragonborn have largely ignored the humans of Q’barra, and the few humans who’ve encountered dragonborn believe they’re some exotic type of lizardfolk. If you’re a dragonborn PC, what has caused you to emerge from Q’barra? Are you on a quest to help your people or to oppose the Lords of Dust? Are you driven by wanderlust or curiosity? Did you serve as a mercenary in the Last War?
Githyanki and Githzerai
The githyanki city of Tu’narath lies in the Astral Plane, while the githzerai have established their stronghold in the chaos of Kythri. If you wish to have traffic between Eberron and the wider multiverse, Tu’narath can lie between Eberron and the planes that lie beyond; an incursion by the githyanki could be the first sign of contact with the outer multiverse. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to say that the gith of Eberron are tied to the setting and have no traffic with the broader multiverse.
The gith are a race enslaved by the mind flayers, who overthrew these cruel masters and raised fortresses in the planes. This story holds true in Eberron, with one twist. It was the daelkyr who invaded the world of the gith. The daelkyr created the first mind flayers from gith stock and turned these monsters against their own people. So it was the mind flayers who destroyed the gith — but worse still, the mind flayers are themselves a twisted reflection of the gith.
To date, the githyanki and githzerai have played no significant role in the history of Eberron, and only the wisest sage would recognize one. If you play a gith character, consider what brings you to Eberron. Are you a githyanki scout gathering information for a future incursion… or a rebel who wants to protect the world from such a fate? Are you here to hunt mind flayers or to oppose the schemes of the daelkyr? Or are you just a curious explorer?
In ancient times, the gnolls were servants of the fiendish Overlords. Some are savage creatures that remain in the thrall of these demons. But the largest population of gnolls is the Znir Pact of Droaam. Thousands of years ago, these gnolls purged themselves of demonic influence and swore to never allow any other creature to hold dominion over them. The Znir Pact sell their services as soldiers and trackers. Most of the Pact currently serves the Daughters of Sora Kell in Droaam, but some fought in the Last War as agents of House Tharashk, and Tharashk continues to broker their services.
As a gnoll, you could be a former mercenary who’s chosen to stay with comrades you met during your service; as a rule, Znir gnolls are deeply loyal to those that they consider to be members of their pack. You might be driven by curiosity, eager to explore the world beyond Droaam. You could be driven by visions of a demonic power rising in the Five Nations or working on behalf of the Daughters of Sora Kell. Or you could be a mercenary still, insisting on regular payment for your ongoing services to the party.
The goblinoid species — including goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears — were once the dominant civilization in Khorvaire. The goblinoid Empire of Dhakaan ruled most of Khorvaire for thousands of years. It was crippled by a long and bitter conflict with the daelkyr and their aberrant armies; even though the daelkyr were defeated, the seeds of madness took root in the empire and tore it apart. Today, there are four primary goblinoid cultures in Khorvaire.
Goblins are found in most of the major cities of the Five Nations. When humans first came to Khorvaire, they enslaved many goblins and built their cities on the foundations of Dhakaani ruins. Galifar ended the practice of slavery, and these goblins are technically citizens of the Five Nations, but most remain as an impoverished underclass found in slums and ghettos. However, gifted goblins can be found in all walks of life, and goblins served in the armies of the Five Nations during the Last War.
The Ghaal’dar tribes arose from the remnants of the Dhakaani Empire. Hobgoblins are the leaders of the Ghaal’dar, enforcing their will on the goblins and bugbears. The history of the Ghaal’dar is filled with strife; when they weren’t fighting with Galifar or Zilargo, the tribes usually turned on one another. This came to an end with the Last War. House Deneith hired Ghaal’dar mercenaries, and this gave focus to the divided tribes. A brilliant hobgoblin, Haruuc, united the Ghaal’dar and under his leadership they seized control of what is now Darguun (see chapter 2). The aging Lhesh Haruuc remains as the ruler of Darguun, and many fear that his death could throw the region into chaos.
Among the Ghaal’dar, you hold your place through cunning and strength. As a Ghaal’dar goblinoid, you may have been a former mercenary now seeking adventure. You could be working as an emissary for one of the Ghaal’dar tribes, or even Lhesh Haruuc himself. Or you could have been driven from your tribe by the actions of a rival; perhaps you’re seeking allies to reclaim your birthright.
The Marguul bugbears threw off the yoke of the Ghaal’dar long ago, seizing territory in the Seawall Mountains in the south of Darguun. They are infamous raiders, and while they have brokered a truce with the Ghaal’dar, anyone venturing into the Seawall Mountains had best travel with a Marguul guide.
As a Marguul bugbear, you are savage and proud of it. The Marguul worship the Mockery and believe in victory by any means necessary: there is no such thing as honor on the battlefield. It’s certainly an unusual choice for a player character, but if you’ve taken a liking to a particular group of the small folk, you could be a powerful ally.
The Heirs of Dhakaan
Though the Dhakaani Empire defeated the alien daelkyr, the war left seeds of madness strewn throughout the empire. As Dhakaan began to fall, a number of generals and governors gathered their forces and retreated into shelters deep within the earth, determined to preserve their civilization until the Empire could finally be restored. After thousands of years, their descendants have finally emerged. They are competing among themselves to determine which leader deserves the Imperial crown; once this is settled, they will turn to the conquest of Darguun and Khorvaire.
The Dhakaani are far fewer in number than the Ghaal’dar; they had to carefully limit their population in their deep vaults. However, they have held onto the martial discipline and techniques that allowed their ancestors to dominate the continent. Their weaponsmiths are superior even to the artificers of House Cannith, and they are experts in the working of adamantine and other exotic metals. Anyone who takes goblinoids for granted should be surprised by the skills of the Dhakaani.
The Heirs of Dhakaan are an agnostic society and don’t have clerics, paladins, or druids. Their focus is on martial excellence, and their spiritual leaders are bards, who inspire their warriors with tales of past glory.
Among the Dhakaan, all goblinoids work together, using their talents for the greater good. Hobgoblins are the strategists and commanders, typically having the skills of fighters, bards, or rangers. Bugbears cultivate a focused battle rage and are typically barbarians, serving as shock troops. Goblins are largely artisans and laborers, but exceptional goblins join the khesh’dar (“silent folk”), learning the skills of rogue, monk, or ranger. The khesh’dar are spreading agents across the Five Nations, and you never know when a city goblin might turn out to be a deadly assassin.
As an adventurer from a Dhakaani clan, why are you working with the other player characters? Are you a scout gathering information? Are you searching for allies to defeat a rival clan, or to support your own unlikely bid for the Imperial throne? Are you an exile… and if so, do you hope to regain your position, or have you abandoned your ties to the Dhakaani?
Many kobolds live in simple tribes scattered across Eberron. The Iredar kobolds claim to be descended from the Progenitor Dragon Eberron herself, and generally live in mountain caverns. The Irvhir claim kinship with Khyber and live in deep caverns. While these claims are unlikely, many kobolds do develop some degree of sorcerous ability. In addition to these tribal kobolds, there’s a large population of kobolds in the nation of Droaam. Traditionally these kobolds have been enslaved by more powerful creatures; now the Daughters of Sora Kell have granted them their own domain under their warlord Kethelrax the Cunning. Beyond this, a handful of Kobolds can be found scattered across Khorvaire, sometimes mingling with the city goblins in the great cities.
The lizardfolk of Khorvaire dwell in the region known as Q’barra. Most are part of a tribal alliance known as the Cold Sun Federation. Their civilization is ancient, but they are quite primitive by the standards of the Five Nations and they’ve never sought to expand beyond Q’barra. Over the last thirty years humans have begun to settle Q’barra. Treaties have been established with the Cold Sun Federation, but communication is difficult and there have been clashes started by forces on both sides.
As a lizardfolk, you may be a scout sent out into the wider world to learn more about these mysterious soft-skinned creatures. You might be driven by a mysterious dream. You could have been driven from your tribe for a crime; what was it, and are you actually guilty?
In Eberron, minotaurs are found in the monstrous nation of Droaam. Most minotaurs worship an entity commonly called the Horned Prince, but each clan has its own personal interpretation and name for the Prince. Some present the Horned Prince as a savage demon who must be satiated with the blood of enemies. Other clans see the prince as a noble war god — analogous to Dol Dorn and Dol Arrah — who demands that his children display both courage and honor on the battlefield. While the cruel minotaurs are primarily encountered as raiders on the borders of Droaam, honorable minotaurs often work with House Tharashk and serve as mercenaries in the Five Nations.
As a minotaur character, decide on your version of the Horned Prince and how this affects you. Are you a former mercenary seeking adventure? Are you following a divine mission? Are you working for House Tharashk, a minotaur warlord, or the Daughters of Sora Kell?
The orcs are an ancient race. Their ancestors were scattered by the Dhakaani goblins, and they largely live in harsh and unwanted lands: the swamps of the Shadow Marches, the Demon Wastes, the depths of the Ironroot Mountains.
The orcs of Eberron weren’t formed by Gruumsh, and they aren’t inherently driven to evil. However, they are an extremely passionate and primal race, given to powerful emotion and deep faith. The Ghaash’kala orcs of the Demon Wastes are servants of the Silver Flame who devote their lives to battling the fiends of the Wastes. The Gatekeeper druids of the Shadow Marches were the first druids on Khorvaire. The Gatekeepers played a crucial role in defeating the alien daelkyr and binding this evil in Khyber, and their descendants continue to maintain the ancient seals and fight aberrations. However, many orcs were corrupted by the daelkyr and embraced the madness of the Cults of the Dragon Below. These cultists also live in the Shadow Marches, and battles between Gatekeepers and the servants of the Dragon Below have diminished both sides.
Beyond the Gatekeepers and the cultists, the Shadow Marches are home to orcs who have joined with humans to create mixed clans. The dragonmarked House Tharashk arose from this union. While full orcs cannot carry the Mark of Finding they are an important part of the house and can be found across Khorvaire as part of Tharashk operations.
As an orc, you could be a Ghaash’kala paladin seeking to protect the innocent from evil. You might be a Gatekeeper druid or ranger hunting aberrations working to prevent the return of the daelkyr. You could be a barbarian or a warlock driven by the mad dreams of the Cults of the Dragon Below. Or you could just be an unmarked member of House Tharashk, seeking your fortune in the wider world!
Tieflings are rarely seen in Eberron, but there are a few paths for a tiefling characters.
Many tieflings are born to the Carrion Tribes, the barbarians who live in the Demon Wastes. Such tieflings are touched by the fiendish forces bound beneath the Wastes and are considered to be blessed by the tribes. If you’re playing such a tiefling, why have you left the Wastes? It could be that you were destined to serve an evil purpose — perhaps even serving as an avatar for an imprisoned demon Overlord — and you are fleeing from that destiny.
Other tieflings are shaped not by demonic powers, but by the influence of the planes. Such tieflings may be born in manifest zones when planes are coterminous. Planar tieflings are isolated oddities, often seen as exotic and strange, but not necessarily evil.
There is one tiefling nation in Khorvaire: The Venomous Demesne, a city-state hidden on the far side of Droaam. The tieflings of the Venomous Demesne are descended from Sarlonan mages who bargained with dark powers, and the lords of the Demesne are powerful warlocks and wizards. The Venomous Demesne has had no significant contact with the Five Nations and few people know it exists; your character could be an envoy, an exile, or simply an adventurer driven by a desire to see what lies beyond your magical kingdom.
What about kenku in Eberron? How about tritons or tabaxi? How do genasi fit into things? There’s a place for everything in Eberron, but it’s always up to the DM to decide how significant that place is. If you want to play a member of a race that hasn’t been addressed here, talk with your DM and come up with an option. What role do you want the race to play in the world?
Widespread. It’s always possible to change the default assumptions of the setting. If both you and your DM like the idea that the Dhakaani Empire was a nation of goliaths rather than goblinoids, you can make that change. So there’s nothing wrong with adding a new race into the common population of the Five Nations, as long as everyone likes the idea of it.
Exotic. There are many places in Eberron where a small population of unusual creatures could exist. Perhaps there’s a lost city of tabaxi in the jungles of Xen’drik, or a clan of Kenku dwelling at the top of Sharn’s tallest tower. The Mourning could have transformed a city of humans into bee-people. As with dragonborn or tieflings, this allows these races to have some sort of culture to interact with but keeps them from affecting the world in a significant way.
Unique. When introducing a character of an unusual race, one option is to say that you’re the only member of that race. Perhaps you were created by the mysterious daelkyr or the brilliant transmuter Mordain the Fleshweaver. Maybe you’re the result of magebreeding experiments conducted by House Vadalis and House Jorasco. Perhaps you began life as a member of another race and were transformed by the Mourning.
While the DM always has the final say as to whether to allow an unusual race into the campaign, the important thing is to determine the story you’re looking for!