Excerpts 04/08/2005

Races of Eberron Excerpt
By Jesse Decker, Matthew Sernett, Keith Baker,
Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel

If you have a shifter, changeling, kalashtar or warforged player character (or nonplayer character, for that matter), Races of Eberron can be a helpful resource for you! New options and rules abound in this rules supplement for both the D&D game and Eberron setting. (Note: Enterprising DMs definitely can use this book in any setting if they choose. You won't need the Eberron Campaign Setting book!) Our sneak peek of this book includes a look at warforged, shifters, changelings, kalashtar, drow, sample feats, and a couple of prestige classes.

Kalashtar at War

Kalashtar battle

Kalashtar are the children of the war between the quori -- a war that continues to this day. It is a battle fought on two fronts: the physical struggle against the Inspired and the agents of the Dreaming Dark, and the spiritual battle to turn the wheel of the age to usher in a new era of light. The kalashtar have always been hopelessly outmatched and outnumbered; for most of their existence, the best they were able to hope for was survival. But according to the teachings of the Path of Light, the very existence of the kalashtar was a blow against the Dreaming Dark: As long as they continued to survive and practice the ways of il-Yannah, the present age of darkness would eventually come to an end. So the elders held the passes of Adar, holding off the endless armies of the Inspired while kalashtar monks continued their meditations of the Great Light and the age to come.

For more than a thousand years, the Dreaming Dark has concentrated its energy on Sarlona. But now the many eyes of the Inspired are turning to Khorvaire -- and as a result, the kalashtar of Khorvaire must face the daily fear of a quori attack. The Dreaming Dark cannot unleash the armies of the Inspired in the cities of Khorvaire, but it has many subtle weapons. Possession, blackmail, or the vast wealth of Riedra can turn almost anyone into an agent of the Dark. A priest of the Silver Flame may urge his parishioners to burn the "tainted souls." A thieves guild could target the kalashtar community -- it would start with petty crimes, but as the Inspired build their power in the guild, the attacks could turn lethal. An innkeeper could poison the food of any kalashtar who passes through his inn. Any kalashtar who travels openly in Khorvaire must always be prepared for battle. Every aspect of kalashtar society reflects this constant need for battle-readiness. The close-knit nature of kalashtar communities, the practice of the path of shadows, the austerity of kalashtar social life: All of these reflect the threat that the kalashtar live under and the knowledge that the agents of the Dreaming Dark could strike at any moment. Recently, the kalashtar of Khorvaire have finally found a weapon against the Inspired -- the path of the atavist (a new prestige class described in Races of Eberron).

The kalashtar are few in number, and in Khorvaire they are not perceived as a nation. The struggle to shift the Dream of the Age far outweighs any petty concerns of princes and kings, and as a race the kalashtar have never participated in the wars of humanity. Over the last twenty years, however, small squads of kalashtar atavists have begun to strike against the hidden powers of darkness. In the Last War, kalashtar forces engaged the Order of the Emerald Claw in Karrnath and the servants of the Lords of Dust in Aundair, and they battled the Cults of the Dragon Below on multiple occasions. The kalashtar do not have the numbers to field true armies, and they find physical conflict to be distasteful. They rely on elite atavist units and gifted shadow watchers, using skill and psionic power to engage in devastating pinpoint strikes. You and your allies have the potential to be the heroes of this new war against the Dreaming Dark -- will you take up the challenge?

Roleplaying Application: In the past, the kalashtar never believed that they could defeat the Dreaming Dark or the other forces that have holds on the world. Mere survival has always been seen as a victory. Now, that has changed. The atavists of Khorvaire call for battle, and the kalashtar search for champions. You need to decide if you will fight in this secret war or if you will decline the call of your ancestors. Do you feel a responsibility to the light? Do you see yourself as a crusader? Or are you turning your back on your people and trying to ignore the whispered admonishments from your quori spirit?

When in combat, try to use logic and careful planning to strike with maximum efficiency. Most kalashtar hate combat, so you should try to keep things short and brutally effective. Consider nonviolent ways to solve your problem. When that fails, be prepared to strike with righteous fury -- albeit wrapped in a calm, cold façade.

As a DM, make certain you keep the lurking threat of the Dreaming Dark in the back of your mind. Any kalashtar traveling openly should suffer occasional attacks, and there should be constant reminders of the ongoing war. When a party returns to a kalashtar community after a long period of time, make sure you note who has been killed in the intervening period; loss is a regular part of life. This has the side effect that regular births need to be a part of life, lest the race die out; heroic kalashtar adventurers may be pressured to procreate, passing their ancestral spirits on to the next generation of kalashtar.

Kalashtar as Characters

A kalashtar's bond to his quori spirit gives him a natural aptitude for psionic power. Many kalashtar learn psionic classes to take full advantage of their natural gifts. Arcane magic, on the other hand, is rarely studied, although an orphan might pursue a career in wizardry. As a race, the kalashtar have a somewhat arrogant disdain for physical weapons; as a result, purely physical classes such as fighter are also uncommon.

Bard: Kalashtar performance primarily involves movement, and the race's musical tradition is based strongly around the integration of telepathic and empathic resonances into song. Bards serve many important roles in kalashtar culture. In addition to the roles of historian and storyteller, bards are often drawn into the shadow watchers as spies, infiltrating guilds and talking their way past villains to expose the plans of the Dreaming Dark or other fiendish foes.

Cleric: Most kalashtar focus their faith on the powers of the mind; many of the mystics who perform services for the Path of Light are actually psions. True clerics of the Path of Light are rare, but respected for having mastered what is seen as an unusual form of devotion.

Monk: The path of shadows is a martial art that serves many purposes in kalashtar communities. In contrast to the lightbringers who spend their days in meditation, moving through the forms of the path of shadows, monks are likely to be shadow watchers trained to strike against hostile forces in the physical world. Kalashtar monks often enhance their abilities with psionic feats. Monks also naturally gravitate to the atavist prestige class.

Psion: Along with expert, this is the most common class in a kalashtar community. As kalashtar grow old and the spirit slowly adapts to the host character, it enhances mental energy, increasing the natural psionic abilities of the vessel. This is reflected in the large number of kalashtar with psion levels; it's just something that comes naturally. Seer, telepath, and shaper are the most common disciplines among the kalashtar, but all of the disciplines can be found.

Psychic Warrior: Soulknives are the primary fighting class of the kalashtar, though a number are psychic warrior/soulknives. Psychic warriors are common among orphans, however, especially veterans of the Last War. Raised outside kalashtar communities, these soldiers were not taught the discipline of mind blade but still developed a modicum of psionic ability.

Soulknife: The soulknife is the primary warrior class of the kalashtar. The stealthy skills of the soulknife are invaluable when it comes to shadowing possible agents of the Dreaming Dark, and the ability to manifest a deadly blade of psychic energy certainly helps as well. Chapter 6 includes new rules for kalashtar soulknives and the new feats they can obtain. Some soulknives take a few rogue levels to assist with assassinations and other unsavory tasks, but most stay with soulknife or begin to take atavist levels as soon as possible.

Wilder: While most kalashtar enjoy the structure of the psion class, orphans or other kalashtar suffering from internal conflict may follow the path of the wilder, relying on instinctive talent and raw chaotic emotion to overcome their foes. Wilders are rarely integrated into traditional kalashtar communities.

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