- 1 General Setting History and Overview
- 2 The Five Nations
- 3 Independent Regions / Nations
- 4 The Mourning and Peace
- 5 Specific Differences with the generic 5th edition setting
- 6 Wide Magic not High Magic
- 7 Faith
- 8 Technology
- 9 Dragonmarks
- 10 Wandslingers
- 11 Character Creation Specifics
- 12 Race
- 13 Ability Scores
- 14 Character Backstory
- 15 Character Placement
- 16 Character Sheets
General Setting History and Overview
Over one hundred years ago, the continent of Khorvaire was ruled as one nation named Galifar by King Jarot. On his death, the previously united nation was split into the Five Nations as powerful scions of Jarot vied for domination over the others. What started as a war of succession, shattered any eventual easy reconciliation as the years progressed and people begin to forget the nation of Galifar and the constant threat from all sides drove people into their own national identities. A simple struggle turned into a large scale war as nations escalated as the situation grew desperate for them.
Many other regions not powerful enough to be considered among the Five Nations also were pulled into the war. They all managed to remain independent by being too difficult to conquer or provided enough valuable services that they deflected hostile forces.
The Five Nations
Aundair - A strongly magical nation that isn’t quite a Mageocracy but the powerful all have access and ability to use if only basic cantrips. Magic permeates life much more deeply in Aundair and nobles are expected to study if not magically experiment similar to how real life nobles were expected to know latin or play a musical instrument. Mostly this is expected but any nobles range from just going through the motions to the truly curious and power hungry. They are also known for producing cheese, wine, magical trinkets and quality art.
Breland - Arguably the strongest of the Five Nations, Breland has thriving farming and manufacturing industries as well as deep natural resources. They are also innovative and are willing to try new technologies to advance their nation above the others. Brelanders are also known as being slightly conniving or shady to outsiders. Their resources and technical edges allowed them fend off many attacks and push other nations using traditional military forces and surprising unconventional tactics and strategies. Breland produces industrial and manufactured goods, metalwork, tobacco, wool and wood products.
Cyre - The original seat of Galifar and King Jarot before his death, they are the self professed “rightful rulers of Khorvaire and the scions of Galifar”. Before the catastrophe which came to be known as “The Mourning”, they were great magical craftsmen. Aundair might have more knowledge of spells but Cyre created more practical magical items and artifices than any two other nations combined. Their autonomous defenses turned away many invaders and during the war, they only lost territory in a substantial fashion due to treachery from hired mercenaries before the destruction and tainting of the nation itself. Cyre jewelry, magic items, music and musical instruments and tools are all increasingly valuable as the existing supplies are finally drying up.
Karrnath - Cold, stoic and militaristic. Karrnath is a smaller, less resource rich nation that the other Five Nations but always made up for it with efficiency and grim determination. Karrnath armies have defended territories and positions long after other nations would have given up, bolsters by their use of undead troops and other dark magics. However, if you can break through the grim visage and make friends, they can also be a steadfast and loyal ally beyond many others. Karrnath has a smattering of exports including ale, dairy, glass, livestock, paper and on rare occasions necromantic and dark magic.
Thrane - Thrane is a nation bound by culture and faith as much as by birth. The Thrane are very religious followers of the Church of the Silver Flame. Their avowed purpose during the war was a theological attempt to expand the Silver Flame faith militarily as the leaders at the time believed it was in all of Khorvaire’s interest for the faith to spread. The functional purpose of the Silver Flame is to defend people against evil and monsters. And in a world where demons dance and duel in the Demon Wastes and aberrations wait deep in the earth for a moment of weakness to burst forth, their efforts are sorely needed. During the war, they would even dispatch their own forces to fight back against demons or other monsters threatening undefended villages in other nations to fulfill the duties of their faith. For exports, Thrane is known for fine quality craftwork, textiles, fruit and horses.
Independent Regions / Nations
Darguun is the newly recognized nation by the peace treaty that was previously controlled by goblin mercenaries. The nation is currently held by a hobgoblin warlord that managed to unite, if temporarily, many of the goblin, hobgoblin and bugbear mercenaries. In the interest of peace, they were acknowledged as their own nation. And while slavery is against the Code of Galifar, Darguun instituted the practice with of the captives of the previous war. Simmering tensions abound with nearly all other nations and few expect the region to remain intact after the dead of it's current leader.
Droaam is a land of demi-humans, previously considered “savage” races by Galifar. However, this didn’t prevent them from being hired in large number by the Five Nations as mercenaries and shock troops. Droaam is the only nation not recognized by the treaty that ended the war and is resentful that the were not deemed advanced or unified enough to be considered a recognized sovereign nation.
The Eldeen Reaches, a primal forest and undeveloped region habited by druids, small villages and fey creatures was forced to defend itself directly and provide favors with druidic magics to survive the perilous times.
The Lhazaar Principalities, a series of islands and independent trading cities, pirated any and all they could for supplies they could use or sell to other nations.
The Mror Hold dwarves defended their own vaults and stores from desperate attackers and raids with elaborate traps having few of their own number in comparison but an excess of time and ingenuity.
Q'Barra is a dangerous frontier nation and is only partially settled. Attacks from Valenar, indigenous lizardfolk attacks as well as Lhazaar pirate raids leaves life in Q'Barra to be fraught with peril. However, Q'Barra was mostly untouched directly by the war and has a population of refugees from many nations willing to eek out an existence without being drawn into the greater conflict.
The Shadow Marches is a long stretch of swampland far to the west on the edge of Khorvaire. It is not a recognized nation but more a region of rival clans and scattered tribes. However, as much as they fight each other, the only thing said to bring a pair of rivals together in the Marches is to have them run into an outsider. Insular and reclusive, the Shadow Marches seems to just exists and be glad to be left alone.
The Talenta Plains and the nomadic halflings that live there fell upon invaders riding their trained dinosaurs and had their own mercenaries working for pay.
Valenar was once part of Cyre but broke away during the war as the elven mercenaries grew in power and seized control of the region. Unfortunately for Cyre, the Valenar mercenaries where of the best cavalry available and their military might and constant hunger for battle allowed them to defend and in many cases, conquer more and more territory in their own names. The peace treaty recognized Valenar as it's own nation.
Zilargo, the nation of Gnomes, used knowledge against their foes. Their spy networks and knowledge for Alchemy and Elemental Binding allowed their to remain relatively unharmed and allowed them to offer services to other nations.
The Mourning and Peace
Six months ago, a great catastrophe occurred. The details are sketchy and rumors abound. A great column of light fell from the heavens. No, a great fog shrouded the nation filled with invisible biting things. It was an eruption from the earth as the aberrant beasts broke free from the earth devouring the entire capital.
It was a magical experiment gone wrong! It was a divine curse from the Gods for some great transgression! It was an attack on Cyre! It was Aundair! It was Breland! It was Karrnath! It was Thrane! Cyre did it to themselves!
No one knows what exactly happened and with the loss of an entire nation in one day, the war itself froze as spies, scouts and humanitarian aid was dispatched. Refugees were plentiful, each with their own panicked tale but most of the nation was impenetrable the deeper expeditions traveled. Magical anomalies, twisted creatures and automated defenses still active prevented a detailed examination. Many who ventured deep into Cyre on orders or in curiosity were simply never heard from again.
The unspoken truce slowly turned into an informal ceasefire and after a hundred tiring years of war, the momentum of peace among the general populations of all nations drove the leaders of the Five Nations (including noble survivors of Cyre) to the bargaining table. A treaty was argued, debated and ultimately signed that solidified the current borders and in the interests of peace issued some far reaching mandates to prevent another magical catastrophe and to stave off the risks of popular uprisings among each nation’s people’s if they were to suddenly return to war after this brief glimpse of peace.
In the aftermath of the peace treaty, all warforged were given their freedom regardless of previous status. The private servants of Aundair became citizens as did the military owned warforged of Karrnath. Each nation suddenly had to come to grips with their own sapient creations who have known only war becoming free citizens.
Specific Differences with the generic 5th edition setting
This campaign is mostly based on the Eberron campaign setting but won’t be slavish to the specifics. It’s mostly a backdrop for the campaign itself as it allows many different possibilities for adventure and is flexible to support a wide range of character backgrounds, races and concepts.
Wide Magic not High Magic
Firstly, magic is much more widespread. During the war, it was common for magic to be utilized especially cantrip, first level and some second level magics. Soldiers were trained to use wands as a focus to be able to case some simple spells to help in warfare. Rarely receiving more than specific training in a few spells, even a front-line soldier might have learned to use a wand and cast a few basic spells for specific situations or emergencies.
People in general are also familiar with magic more than a traditional D&D campaign. Common magical items are pretty common. Most villages or perhaps the next village over has someone that can brew healing potions. A town might have a handful of people that used to be wandslingers or perhaps use magic in conjunction with their profession. A skilled cook might be able to purify food and drink. A healer would know a healing spell for emergencies. A scribe might know a spell to copy documents, etc. Sharn, the largest city in Khorvaire has streetlamps that run on continuous flame spells and lamplighters than maintain the lamps with magic. As such, cantrips and level 1 spells are common enough to be integrated into craft / trade and the like to facilitate every day work rather than replace it.
Spells of level 2 and 3 are known and perhaps have been seen. Level 3 spells are spoken as of impressive feats witnessed instead of legends or folklore. Rich noble houses or governments might have wandslingers that can use 3rd level spells among their ranks. And wealthy citizens might have their houses and vaults arcane locked. Magic weapons might find their way into the hands of elite units like city watchmen or royal guards. Uncommon magic items are valuable and can be purchased in limited supply in large towns with wide assortments in the largest cities that might have multiple magic shops.
Level 4 to 6 spells are ideas that are theoretically possible but considered unproven. The ideas of teleportation, magic jar, contacting other planes, etc seems likely they might work but it’s unknown for someone to have that much knowledge and magical ability outside of a few individuals or perhaps are lost magics of the Giants or the Dragons lost among ancient ruins and buried in lost cities. Rare magic items are indeed rare and a single piece is considered the prize of a magical shop in the greatest cities or a showpiece of the great merchant houses.
And magic of level 7 and above the stuff of legends and are associated with legendary people of the world. If encountered in the Five Nations, they are likely tied to an eldritch machine or a specific magically enriched zone that makes the magic possible. Magical items of this level are the creations of dragons or demons or found in atavistic, forgotten tombs on other continents. They would never be for sale due to their extreme value and near legendary powers.
Faith in Eberron is much more hands off and linked to an individual person rather than a confirmed divine source. For example, in traditional D&D, a cleric can lose their spells and abilities if they act in contradiction to their God’s will. In Dragonlance, Gods can and do directly speak with mortals and appear in the world itself.
In Eberron, no one is quite sure how divine magic works beyond it’s channelled through people with a lot of belief. Mad hermits in caves can have divine powers even if they can no longer rationally communicate. And a cleric that strays from their God doesn’t lose their powers automatically. Perhaps divine magic is simply an alternative arcane type of magic? Perhaps the Gods have their reasoning that is incomprehensible to mortals? Or perhaps the Gods are invented paradigms of the method of conducting divine energy into spells and abilities?
There is a lot of magic, technology and magical technology in Eberron. Warforged are one striking example. Sapients given to organic and inorganic materials to create life and thought. There’s also airships, bound elementals used as power sources for transportation (Water elemental pulled ships, Air elemental pulling airships, earth elemental pulled wagons and fire elemental powered boilers and forges. These are specialized and expensive uses of elementals due to the possible dangerous nature of the elemental if it breaks it’s bonds and they always are associated with a trained individual to maintain and drive the elementals as needed. One last great magical technology is the Lightning Rail. A series of pathways powered by contained lightning elementals that power a train network that travels between the capitals of the Five Nations built and run by one of the great merchant houses, it offers somewhat expensive and fast travel between capitals as well as multiple stops along the way at major cities.
And keeping in the same vein, magical options are available for all character classes. Eberron has Dragonmarks which can replace some racial templates. A Dragonmark is a magical mark/tattoo that manifests on a person due to having a common blood connection in the distant past. Most are respective of specific races (because they replace the racial template and also are canonically based on the bloodline of those races). If a Dragonmark racial template is bought, a character can channel magic through their dragonmark to cast some spells as rituals and are generally better at stuff relating to their mark’s domain. For example, a Mark of Making replaces your human template with it’s own ability score increases, bonus to artisan skill checks, the ability to cast the cantrip Mending and ability to make temporary magic items / enhancements. There are some restrictions to race for setting reasons but I’m flexible if a specific mark is wanted. There are fourteen types of dragonmarks that cover a wide range of domains from animals to hospitality to warding to detection.
One last thing about dragonmarks, each dragonmark is associated with a House resembling a guild or perhaps a fantasy corporation. You don’t have to be a part of these House to have a dragonmark in my campaign but the strong association between the marks and the houses can sometimes lead to confusion for good or for ill. They are mostly merchant houses that profited greatly from the war and crafted some of the most complex magical creations for many different nations during the war.
Eberron allows the Magic Initiate feat to be taken by any class use a wand to cast some cantrips and a first level spell to supplement their abilities.
Character Creation Specifics
So now, the war has officially ended with no resolution. The land is battered, scorched and abused. Magical beasts that escaped or were set loose roam the land. Savage monsters that had been left to claim abandoned military structures or allowed to raid villages due to the lack of resources now have to be dealt with. Soldiers that couldn't find or maintain jobs have turned to banditry. And this is where you come in.
Breland, in a stroke of innovation, quickly renovated an old military training grounds in the countryside into a wholly new enterprise. An adventurer’s guild and academy to draw many of the idle soldiers who might have just as easily turned to banditry themselves and teach them the basics of fighting monsters, magical traps and to train them to clear out war hazards and remnants to help reclaim lost lands and resources. Your character is one of the first groups of new adventurers to be trained for free and put their skills to work.
You've been training for a few months and now are prepared to take your final exams. Unfortunately, you are lumped together with a bunch of other rejects that seem hell bent on acting like idiots so you'll likely need to keep on your toes or be dragged now into the stupidity yourself.
Nearly everything can be fit in Eberron. With the level of magical experimentation during the war, the ancient knowledge of life creation from the Giants and the twisting fleshcrafting of Aberrations, there are lots of possibilities for choosing a specific character race or even just being part of a rare but standard race. A Goliath could simply be from a village of other Goliaths living in a remote wilderness or a Goliath character could be the sole result of a super soldier experiment during the war. Either backstory works and are easily adapted into Eberron. Also, if you have an interest in a beast / savage race, let me know. Eberron has stuff about nearly all sentient races from Saughin to Gnolls to Shifters to Kobolds.
For ability scores, you can roll randomly (4d6, take the highest 3) or use the standard 15,14,13,12,10,8 stat array.
I’d like everyone to think about how the last 100 years plus of war affected your character. Most races wouldn’t have anyone alive that remembers the start of the war only the war itself so it would have a large impact on most characters even if they didn’t fight.
Did your character fight in any specific nation’s army? Were they a mercenary? What sort of unit were they in and what type of fighting or work did they do? Did they somehow avoid the war altogether? Did they lose anyone, comrades, family, friends? When the war suddenly ended, how did that affect your character? Were they joyous, lost, angry?
And I’d also like you to choose an origin nation for your character. Were they raised in dour Karrnath? Were they born among the pirates and cutthroat merchants of the Lhazaar Principalities? Are they a refugee from Cyre? Do they have any attachment to their homeland?
I ask for you to think about this since I’d like to give small intangible benefits depending on your what they’ve experienced in the past. If you were an infantry soldier for Karrnath, you might know a few things about undead that others might not know. If you are from the Lhazaar Principalities, you likely know about boats and perhaps smuggling. If you worked providing supplies, perhaps you know a bit about logistics, etc. I’d be happy to be able to volunteer small snippets of information that your character might know if some of the basic information has been filled out.
Your character will need to have decided to go through the adventurer training and become an adventurer for their own reasons. This campaign can support pretty much any character race or concept. If the idea is incredibly unique (like say a talking sentient cactus that becomes a wizard), then you are likely a one of a kind magical experiment that fell under the Warforged section of the treaty and are now their own individual. The war has lead to know just military and national magical creations but many private ones as well as people worked to strengthen their own nations or to create a lucrative war commodity or perhaps just took advantage of the time’s lax moral policies to just experiment for their own curiosity.
Give a heads up if you’d like some stuff included in the campaign for your character. This campaign is as much for you to enjoy as it is for me to create. If you don’t particularly care, that’s fine. Sometimes, filling out a character sheet is just to create a character to run dungeons with or to enjoy combat and find loot.
However if, for example, your character gets the Guild Artisan background and you choose the Brewer’s Tool Proficiency and decide that their character has been told legends of the greatest Beers and Spirits that have been lost to time and that entire vaults have been built to defend a single bottle, then perhaps I can work in these great liquors and dungeons into the campaign.
Alternatively, if you choose the Guild Artisan background and go with the Guild Merchant variant and just want to haggle over the valuables found, that can just as simply be arranged. Or if you just want to make all your own equipment and ultimately craft a great and legendary weapon by your own hand, then perhaps plans and schematics can be found in forgotten workshops.
Point is, you character can be played as much or as little as you like so that you are enjoying the game as you’d like to enjoy it. I’m hoping that my campaign will create more of those “Remember when we ...” moments so when inspiration hits, let me know if it’s more than just a passing joke or thought and it might be able to be implemented into future sessions.
Place character sheet links here if you make one.