Excerpts 01/16/2006

Player's Guide to Eberron Excerpt
By James Wyatt, Keith Baker,
Luke Johnson, Steven Stan! Brown

Add depth to your Eberron characters with the help of Player's Guide to Eberron. Presenting information in an innovative spread format, this comprehensive gazetteer covers key topics a character should know about, from Aerenal to Zilargo, house politics to the Last War, dragons to the Lords of Dust, without revealing information meant for Dungeon Masters only. New feats, prestige classes, magic items, and spells are included in the relevant entries. The excerpts give you a look at building a character plus some location-based information.

Ancient Ruin

The blasted land of the Demon Wastes is the last bastion of the evil powers that ruled Khorvaire during the Age of Demons, and the most dangerous place on the continent. Nevertheless, adventurers journey here for the ruins scattered across the desolate landscape, some so old that only their foundations remain. Though the barren land contains hidden artifacts and forgotten magic, few adventurers return with these treasures, for the dangers of the Wastes are legion. Fiends still hold sway here -- rakshasas and lesser beings whose reach is long and subtle. Night hags control small patches of land and remnants of civilization. Humanoid tribes serve the whims of their demonic masters.

When the dragons and their couatl allies defeated the fiends at the end of the Age of Demons, they imprisoned the godlike leaders of the rakshasas deep beneath the surface of the world. The fiendish followers of those rakshasa rajahs fled to the land that had been their empire's capital -- Fah'lrrg in the Infernal language, called the Demon Wastes on modern maps. Many of the rajahs lie beneath the Wastes, while some remain trapped elsewhere in Khorvaire and the continents beyond. Here more than anywhere, however, they left their stamp on the surface world. Their presence (as well as the heavy concentration of their followers) taints the land and the living things upon it. The ground is cracked and dry, the life leached away. Beyond the twisted network of canyons called the Labyrinth, the Demon Wastes present a blasted plain of blackened sand and volcanic glass.

The imprisoned fiends are openly worshiped here. The Carrion Tribes, a handful of barbarian human clans descended from a wave of Sarlonan refugees trapped in this land more than fifteen centuries ago, pay homage to the rakshasa lords trapped beneath the Demon Wastes. Led by half-fiends and possessed warriors, each of these clans gives its allegiance to a different rajah, and the nature of that patron influences everything from customs and traditions to iconography and the clan's magical abilities. The Plaguebearers clan reveres a fiend-lord of filth and pestilence, while the Deathbringers worship a lord of death and the undead. The Enshrouded worship a fiend of darkness, and the Carrion Hounds revere rot and eat carrion like the vultures they hold sacred. Perhaps most unusually, the Moon Reavers clan worships the night hags of the Wastes rather than the entombed lords of the rakshasas.

The Carrion Tribes are diverse in their beliefs and practices, but they maintain a common reverence for the barbarian ideal and the state of rage. They believe that a raging barbarian is briefly possessed by a fiendish spirit that empowers his body and hardens his mind. For this reason, barbarians hold almost all positions of authority in the Carrion Tribes, although the Moon Reavers also exalt the art of the rogue -- stealthy guerrilla tactics, assassination, and shadowy terror.

Though most barbarians in the Demon Wastes serve the fiends eagerly, a few escape, are abandoned, or rebel. These individuals might fall in with the Ghaash'kala (the ghost-guardians who prevent the evil in the Wastes from spreading), or they might join one of the few communities that manage to survive in the Wastes. Some become adventurers, and if they are sakah (see page 35), they use their gifts to further their own ends.

The Lords of Dust (see page 147) are perhaps the most important power group in the Demon Wastes. Devoted servants of the imprisoned fiends, the Lords are distinguished from the Carrion Tribes by being fiends themselves. While some among the Lords of Dust seek to channel the imprisoned rajahs' power to enhance their own, most strive to break the bonds of the fiend-lords and usher in a new Age of Demons.

The Rakshasa Rajahs

The fiends imprisoned in Khyber at the end of the Age of Demons were evil outsiders with godlike power. Beyond that description, their true nature remains unclear. Their closest parallel in the D&D rules are the archdevils and demon princes described in Book of Vile Darkness. Few are known by name, but one -- now called Levistus -- is famous for having briefly slipped the bonds of his imprisonment (see Frostfell Gods and Fiends, page 67). It is possible that the fiendish patron of the Plaguebearers is a creature similar to Demogorgon or Juiblex, while the lord of the Deathbringers might be similar to Orcus. The darkness fiend worshiped by the Enshrouded could be Graz'zt, and the carrion lord of the Carrion Hounds (sometimes called the Lord of Flies) could be Baalzebul -- before or after his transformation into a sluglike monster. Whether the rakshasa rajahs actually bear any physical similarity to these archfiends, their abilities and characteristics are on a par with them.

The Sakah

Strange births are common within the barbarian tribes; newborns may exhibit the sign of one of the rajahs. Such a sign might be subtle, but could include horns, sharp teeth or claws, red eyes, rough gray skin, bulging knuckles, bony spikes, leathery wings, or some other sign of the rajahs' dark influence. Some individuals display these fiendish features at birth, while others develop them as they mature physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The Carrion Tribes believe that these individuals are blessed and call them sakah ("touched ones"). They often rise to become influential members of their tribes.

Sakah may also have subtle powers that manifest as they age, such as a captivating gaze, a talent for sorcery, or a preternaturally charming voice. These abilities and the reputation of all sakah let them rise in rank within the Carrion Tribes, grant them the strength to survive on their own, or allow them to flee the Wastes. The following feats represent a few of the fiendish powers a sakah might possess as a result of her fiendish taint. A character with any of these feats bears some physical manifestation of it, described in the feat entry.

Since most denizens of the Demon Wastes are evil, most sakah are evil -- but they do not have to be. The fiends' sign steers sakah toward evil alignments, but some resist this temptation and flee or combat the fiends. Others simply ignore their powers' origin and use them to further their adventures. Presented below are three feats designed to simulate some of the special abilities that sakah exhibit.

Touch of Captivation

You are sakah, and your fiendish gift allows you to captivate people around you. Your eyes have an unnatural appearance, such as slitted or strangely colored pupils.

Prerequisite: Region of origin Demon Wastes.

Benefit: Your tainted origin grants you the following spell-like abilities as a 1st-level caster: 1/day -- charm person, daze, prestidigitation. The save DC for these effects is equal to 10 + spell level + your Cha modifier.

Touch of Deception

You are sakah, and your fiendish gift allows you to alter your appearance and trick others. When you are not disguised, you are marked by unusual hair -- flaming red or blue black, sometimes streaked with a lighter color.

Prerequisite: Region of origin Demon Wastes.

Benefit: Your tainted origin grants you the following spell-like abilities as a 1st-level caster: 1/day -- disguise self, ghost sound, open/close. The save DC for these effects is equal to 10 + spell level + your Cha modifier.

Touch of Summoning

You are sakah, and your fiendish gift allows you to summon fell creatures to do your bidding. You have high and sharply angled cheekbones, sunken eyes, or a heavy brow ridge.

Prerequisite: Region of origin Demon Wastes.

Benefit: Your tainted origin grants you the following spell-like abilities as a 1st-level caster: 1/day -- acid splash, mage hand, and summon monster I (fiendish creatures only). The save DC for these effects is equal to 10 + spell level + your Cha modifier.

What Do You Know?

Knowledge (geography)

DC 10: The Demon Wastes is a blasted land where barbarian tribes battle each other. Rakshasas and other fiends control the land.

DC 15: To enter the Demon Wastes by land, you have to pass through the Labyrinth -- a convoluted series of canyons full of barbarians, lurking monsters, and tunnels to Khyber.

DC 18: The strongest and most unified group of fiends is the Lords of Dust. The Carrion Tribes are humanoid barbarians who follow various fiends. The Ghaash'kala are fierce orc warriors who keep the Carrion Tribes in check by preventing anything from leaving the Wastes.

DC 20: Nine night hags wield power in the Wastes, ruling independently.

Knowledge (local)

DC 10: Just a few settlements exist within the Demon Wastes, and none are truly civilized.

DC 20: The only worthwhile settlement is Festering Holt, a hamlet of humanoids in the northeast.

Knowledge (the planes)

DC 10: Fiends rule the Demon Wastes.

DC 15: Rakshasa rajahs are trapped beneath the Demon Wastes.

DC 20: Some fiends work with each other, but most have their own agendas. Some seek to free their imprisoned rajahs or draw power from them.

DC 25: In the north is a chasm called the Lair of the Keeper, a manifest zone linked to Dolurrh.

Knowledge (religion)

DC 15: The primitive humans in the Demon Wastes worship the rakshasas, night hags, and other fiends.

DC 20: The Ghaash'kala revere Kalok Shash, also called the binding flame. Kalok Shash might be identical to the Silver Flame. Several Ghaash'kala clans exist, and they share a common priesthood.

DC 25: The fiends and barbarian priests draw power from entities trapped in Khyber, allowing them access to spells and other abilities.

DC 30: Some believe that the Keeper dwells within a chasm in the north.

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