Excerpts 07/06/2005


Five Nations Excerpt
By Bill Slavicsek, David Noonan, Christopher Perkins



Add to your Eberron campaign with the Five Nations campaign supplement. Five Nations offers players a rich source of information about playing and dealing with characters from the Five Nations of the Eberron world. As any play in the Eberron world is likely to involve the Five Nations or characters from them, the book is useful to anyone involved in an Eberron campaign. The individual nation chapters include information on culture, geography (including maps), guilds and factions and, new prestige classes, equipment, creatures, spells, magic items, and adventure sites. The excerpts below include introductory information, information on Aundair and some of its leaders, a prestige class, plus a creature.

Plots and Factions of Aundair

Like any of the Five Nations, Aundair seethes with intrigue and plotting. Some of these plots are internal to the workings of the nations; others stretch far beyond its borders to seek advantages in this age of peace before the next war.

The Triumvirate

In principle, Queen Aurala ir'Wynarn rules as the absolute monarch of Aundair. In practice, an unofficial triumvirate governs the land: Queen Aurala, her brother Adal (who holds the titles of First Warlord and Royal Minister of Magic), and Lord Darro ir'Lain (Second Warlord of the Realm and commander of the Knights Arcane). The members of the triumvirate have a genteel rivalry with each other. Not one of them completely trusts the other two, but they realize that they currently have a shared destiny.

Lord Darro's Scheme

Lord Darro (LN male human wizard 6/knight phantom 6) has been planning a campaign to reclaim part of the Eldeen Reaches. Specifically, his plans suggest that Aundair could take back the portion of the Reaches that stretches from the Wynarn River to Mossmantle and the start of the Towering Wood. Doing so would battle-harden the core of the Aundair army, including Darro's own Knights Arcane, as well as gain them some new territory to expand into. A campaign in the northwest would not overly concern Breland, he believes, and while the people of Aundair could probably be more easily convinced to strike out to take back Thaliost, Darro isn't ready to go up against Thrane at this point in time. If he can convince Adal to provide magical support to bolster the army, he's sure he can sway Queen Aurala to approve the campaign when the time is right.

Getting PCs Involved: Lord Darro ir'Lain secretly prepares war plans for an invasion of the Eldeen Reaches. He's been surreptitiously hiring bands of adventurers to go into the Reaches to reconnoiter and disrupt Eldeen activities. Lord Darro pays well; he has a vast personal fortune as well as the treasures seized by the Knights Arcane during the Last War.

A DC 15 Gather Information or Knowledge (local) check made in Fairhaven reveals that a noble aligned with Lord Darro, Count Tarnik ir'Weld, seeks adventurers and long-range scouts to slip across the border into the Eldeen Reaches. Tarnik can be found in Windshire Keep, on the Wynarn River. A meeting with the noble reveals that the adventurers can earn gold for finding a weakness in the Eldeen defenses west of the Wynarn River, as well as bringing back information on troop strength and movements in the area. If the PCs succeed on a mission for Count Tarnik, they get to appear before Lord Darro and are offered more lucrative -- and dangerous -- missions.

First Warlord Adal's Plan

First Warlord and Royal Minister of Magic Adal (NE male human fighter 2/wizard 8) regards the Eldeen Reaches as a meat grinder; send in troops, and they become food for the beasts of that wild, untamed land. On the other hand, he'd very much like to wrest Thaliost from Thrane's hands. He works to develop a single arcane event, an apocalypse of spells to rain down on Thrane's army simultaneously. Adal hopes to test this scenario against the Thrane forces that surround Thaliost. If it works as planned, Aundair can use the event to threaten the other nations into submission, and Aurala's path to the Galifar throne -- or better yet, Adal's own path to that throne -- will be clear. Adal has a cabal of arcanists researching spells and new weapons of war, working toward this very purpose. He regards Lord Darro as a capable, if overly aggressive, military leader. He shares many of his sister's dreams, especially the one in which an Aundairian lord takes the crown of Galifar. The trouble is, he believes that his sister rules only because of an accident of timing, and he sees himself as the true power behind the Aundairian throne. He uses his role as First Warlord and Minister of Magic to steer the ship of state through the troubled waters of first the Last War and now this time of uneasy and ultimately false peace.

Getting PCs Involved: Adal's agents are alert to news of powerful magic. If a major magic item or potentially controllable monster is discovered -- whether in Khorvaire or Xen'drik -- Adal might hire freelance agents to acquire it for him. He's also cautious enough to hire deniable "independents" to do the initial testing of any spell or weapon prototypes his cabal develops.

If the PCs try to sell powerful magic items, schemas, or other items of arcane power, Adal serves as a potential buyer. A DC 15 Diplomacy check is usually sufficient to get a meeting with one of Adal's lieutenants at the Ministry of Magic, or perhaps with Adal himself.

Characters with a connection to the Arcane Congress may meet Adal within the floating castles of Arcanix.

Queen Aurala's Dreams

For her part, Queen Aurala (NG female human aristocrat 8) has her eyes fixed on the vacant Galifar throne. She believes that the last century has proved that war won't gain Galifar's throne for anyone. But diplomacy, subterfuge, and more focused battles might succeed where the free-for-all that was the Last War failed. She encourages the ambitions of Darro and Adal, but she's determined that Aundair won't make any moves unless they fit into Aurala's strategies and intrigues.

Getting PCs Involved: Queen Aurala directly controls Aundair's spy network, the Royal Eyes of Aundair. The Eyes are Queen Aurala's favorite tool; she sends her agents on missions of espionage and sabotage abroad and to spy on and deal with her rivals within Aundair's borders. Queen Aurala definitely wants to keep an eye on Adal and Darro. Anyone working for her First Warlord or the Knights Arcane commander might get a quiet visit from the Royal Eyes. In such cases, the Royal Eyes either interrogate and arrest the PCs or recruit them as double agents.

A character who succeeds on a DC 20 Knowledge (nobility and royalty) check knows about Queen Aurala's close connection to the Royal Eyes. Furthermore, such a character knows the bureaucratic process necessary to set up a meeting with Spy Master Batrax of the Royal Eyes, a confidant of the queen.

Notable Aundairians

A selection of important Aundairians follows. Some can serve as friends or foes for player characters, others as patrons or simply as background movers and shakers in this nation.

Queen Aurala

The blonde woman above you has a half-smile on her face as she looks you over. The royal finery she wears -- gems on top of gold on top of silk -- is so dazzling that you almost don't realize that her smile doesn't extend to her eyes. But once you do notice, you can't help but stare back, looking into predatory gray orbs without a trace of joy or amusement.

The Queen of Aundair, Aurala ir'Wynarn, is known for her eloquence. In fact, her enemies sometimes claim that she talked her way out of the Last War. When Aurala was younger, her suitors considered her attractive and charismatic, but they never realized how cautious and clever she was in playing them against each other -- a talent she has cultivated ever since. (Her supporters attest she finally married for love, but some suspect her marriage to a noble from House Vadalis was really a political move.)

While Aurala willingly relinquishes some measure of power to lesser nobles in order to keep the wheels of government turning, she excels at asserting her authority at every opportunity. With flowery words and a powerful presence, she rallies her most stalwart supporters with confidence and ease. Aurala powerfully and loudly proclaims the need to maintain the hard-fought peace, while secretly planning for the next stage of the war. Although she has put on a public show of backing away from conflict, including withdrawing troops from the western border, she has given a handful of her nobles the authority to muster and maintain "small" defense forces that she can call upon whenever the nation is threatened.

Her nation, her people, her family; Aurala uses these assets to lay the foundation to ultimately claim her heart's desire -- the throne of Galifar. No matter her words or deeds, no matter the show she puts on for the public, everything that Aurala does leads her one step closer to the crown and throne of her ancestors. She has no intention of letting a lasting peace stand in the way of her ultimate goal.

Queen Aurala and the PCs

Queen Aurala might become a patron to the PCs, especially if they get involved with the Royal Eyes of Aundair. In an intrigue-oriented campaign, she makes a worthy adversary as well. She has great ambitions and a powerful nation to carry them out. The following interaction block assumes that Aurala's granted the PCs an audience -- which might take an adventure itself in addition to some interaction with one of Aurala's high-ranking nobles or senior staff to accomplish. Further, it assumes that the PCs have a venture requiring the Crown of Aundair's help. The first time Aurala grants an audience to the PCs, her starting attitude is unfriendly, regardless of what the characters may have done to deserve her attention. After applying any appropriate modifiers from the following list, the DM makes a Diplomacy check on behalf of the character with the highest modifier in that skill. The outcome of the PCs' contact with the queen depends on the check result, as outlined below.

Modifiers: PCs come recommended by First Warlord Adal or Lord Darro ir'Lain (+1); PCs are agents of the Royal Eyes (+2; +4 if trusted agents, +6 if elite); PCs have performed acts of heroism on Aundair's behalf (+2); PCs have performed acts of heroism that furthered Aurala's ambitions (+6); PCs fail to observe social protocols during audience (-2); PCs have Thrane or Karrnath connections (-4); PCs haven't been vetted by Royal Eyes inquisitives (-4).

If Aurala remains hostile (check result 4 or lower), she dismisses the PCs -- at spearpoint, if necessary. The PCs can count on Royal Eyes surveillance for the rest of their time in Aundair.

If she becomes unfriendly (check result 5-14), Aurala brusquely thanks the PCs for their time and says she'll refer the matter to her staff.

If she changes to indifferent (15-24), Aurala provides deniable, inexpensive support. She grants the PCs appropriate travel papers, assigns a staff member to answer questions, and so forth.

If she becomes friendly (25-39), Aurala tells the Royal Eyes that the PCs' situation is important to Aundair's national interests. As long as their requests are reasonable, the PCs can count on covert aid from the Royal Eyes.

If Queen Aurala's attitude changes to helpful (40 or higher), her assistance extends to every part of the Aundairian government, from the military to the diplomatic corps.

Queen Aurala CR 7
Female human aristocrat 8
NG Medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Listen +9, Spot +9
Languages Common, Elven, Halfling
AC 16, touch 13, flat-footed 15
hp 28 (8 HD)
Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +8
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee +1 dagger +7 (1d4+1) or
Ranged +2 longbow +10/+5 (1d8+2)
Base Atk +6; Grp +6
Abilities Str 10, Dex 12, Con 9, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 15
Feats Alertness, Skill Focus (Bluff), Skill Focus (Diplomacy), Weapon Focus (longbow)
Skills Bluff +16, Diplomacy +16, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +7, Listen +9, Ride +6, Sense Motive +13, Spot +9
Possessions Diani's enchanted gown +3, +2 longbow with 10 arrows, ring of protection +1, amulet of natural armor +1, +1 dagger

Hook "My people have no interest in war. Aundair seeks peaceful relations with its old neighbors."

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