The Once and Future King
Eberron is a world of extremes. Thanks to an abundance of magic and its effects on the environment, the world possesses great beauty as well as terrible darkness. Looking up into the night, one can see the Ring of Siberys charting a golden path across the sky. Beyond it, any of 12 moons, some full and bright, some only slivers, and a few so far away as to appear to be stars, might be seen on any given evening.
Seas and oceans separate the continents. The heart of the world, at least for humans, is Khorvaire. All the common races can be found on the continent – the human nations, the dwarf, the gnome, and Halfling homelands, as well as communities of elves, half-elves, half-orcs, shifters, changelings, and goblinoids. A number of monster nations have also formed due to the repercussions of the Last War.
For some reason not completely understood, the common races living on the continent of Khorvaire developed dragonmarks and spell-like abilities associated with them. Individual dragonmarks appeared within bloodlines, and soon family dynasties sprang up to take advantage of the dragonmark powers. Each family created an economic empire using the dragonmarks, and the dragonmarked houses developed into independent commerce states operating across multiple nations. Today, twelve dragonmarks shared among thirteen houses form the basis for economic power across the continent. These marks are found in the families of the House Cannith, House Deneith, House Ghallanda, House Jorasco, House Kundarak, House Lyrandar, House Medani, House Orien, House Phiarlan, House Sivis, House Tharashk, House Thuranni, and House Vadalis.
Our Campaign begins in 998 YK (the 998th year since the human kingdom of Galifar was founded). The Last War ended 2 years ago with the signing of the Treaty of Thronehold, after lasting for a little over a century. The death of the last great Galifar King, Jarot, in 894 YK led to this war of succession among his 5 children, each of whom ruled one of the Five Nations making up his kingdom. When the war had ended, the makeup of the continent was changed. Cyre, one of the original Five Nations, was reduced to a blighted, decimated region called the Mournland. New nations, mostly on the periphery of the Five Nations and Khorvaire, were recognized. The war also resulted in the emergence of a new race of living constructs, called Warforged, created by the dragonmarked house Cannith. Though they were originally deemed property, as time went on it became apparent that the warforged were as sentient and free-willed as any of the other prominent races of Khorvaire. With the signing of the Treaty of Thronehold, the warforged were legally recognized as free and living beings.
Of the Five Nations (Aundair, Breland, Karrnath, Thrane, and the now “extinct” Cyre), Breland today stands as one of the most powerful. With a large population and a robust industrial center, Breland could have continued fighting the Last War for many years, and perhaps even won. King Boranel, however, grew tired of constant battle. He longed for the peace of a united Galifar, a peace unknown in his lifetime. When an opportunity presented itself to forge a new peace, Boranel put his enthusiasm and powerful force of presence behind the effort.
The people of Breland love their king, his vassal lords respect and even revere him, and the parliament sees him as fair and just. It is said that the people of Breland will follow Boranel anywhere, and this has been demonstrated many times in the course of his thirty-seven year reign. As Boranel gets older, concerns revolving around succession begin to manifest. One plan, mostly discussed quietly and in secret, suggests that the nation abandon the monarchy after Boranel’s death and turn over more power and authority to the parliament. Another plan hopes that one of Boranel’s children will fill the vacuum and become a leader in the same vein as his or her father. So far, none of the heirs has demonstrated more than a passing ability at ruling the nation.
Breland continues to engage in skirmishes with the warbands of Droaam. The monster clans regularly test the borders and make raids into Western Breland, and Breland intelligence believes that a sizable force infests the Graywall Mountains. In the south, the Brelish navy works to keep the sea lanes safe from pirates. Though the navy suspects that the pirates have ties to the Lhazaar princes, no definitive proof has been uncovered – at least not since the Thronehold Accords went into effect.
The rest of Khorvaire knows Breland for its manufactured goods and heavy industry. The smelts and forges of the city of Sharn, for example, produce relatively inexpensive weapons and armor. While these aren’t as well made and ornate as those turned out by Karrnath, they work just find and cost significantly less. Sharn also turns ore and other raw materials into processed goods.
All of the dragonmarked houses maintain emporiums and outposts throughout Breland, and all of them have extensive operations in Sharn, the City of Towers. House Medani (with the mark of detection), House Phiarlan (with the mark of shadow), and one branch of House Cannith (with the mark of making) all maintain headquarters in Breland. House Vadalis (with the mark of handling) has an important enclave here as well.
Sharn is a Metropolis of 200,000 souls, and the largest city on the continent. It has sat on the Hilt of the Dagger River since before recorded history. For more than two millenia, the towers of Sharn have grown, rising thousands of feet into the sky. This vertical expansion has given the metropolis its title: The City of Towers. The City can be as impressive as it can be oppressive. The same skyscrapers of stone can make one person laugh with excitement and another weep from the size and weight and impossible heights. Whatever emotion the city inspires, the place remains a bustle of activity at all hours of the day and night. Sharn attracts visitors and adventurers from around the world. It is a hotbed of activity, known in equal measures for its wonders, its crime rate, its amazing amount of corruption, and its genuinely exciting atmosphere.
There’s a popular saying on the elevated streets of Sharn: “If it can be bought, it can be bought here.” Shops and trading stalls abound, usually gathered in trade districts, open-air markets (called exchanges), or merchant halls (called tower markets) found within many tower and building complexes. Sharn also boasts a thriving black market where everything from exotic fruits and animals to illegal spell components and stolen goods can be traded. Sharn’s authorities do their best to curtail this activity, if for no other reason than so proper taxes can be collected, but supply and demand make it next to impossible to really control. This leads to another popular saying: “If someone wants it, someone sells it in Sharn”
Sharns’s eclectic cosmopolitanism extends to faiths as well; in the great metropolis can be found representatives and followers of almost every religion and faith, even though Breland’s citizens in general belong mostly to the Church of the Silver Flame or the Sovereign Host. Some devotees simply pass through on their way to some other part of the continent. Others remain in the City of Towers and try to provide spiritual sustenance to the masses that flow through the city. As a whole, the Brelish have more faith in themselves and their king than in gods who never walk the land.
It is up to you to decide who you are, and what brings you to Sharn, but our adventure starts here …