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With a flash of intuition, Aeren finally recognized the missing element one day after a particularly vicious sacrifice. Each victim was unwilling. Aeren shared her theories on the power of blood sacrifice with the trusted core of her secret resistance movement. But secrecy, even among the elf slaves, was vital, lest betrayal ruin all their years of hidden labor. Of all the thousands of elves held in captivity, Aeren selected only one hundred others to share the magical knowledge necessary to free the elves, as well as the exact time of the escape.
They all spoke the final words of a terrible ritual, prepared in advance over many months. The ritual was powered by the sacrifice of all the collected elf heroes. In that instant, all these participating elves, scattered across the continent in key locations, gave up their lives.
Mighty detonations of arcane power were born flaming into the world. Giant citadels fell, towns were expunged of their giant populations—and elves everywhere saw the signal for revolt. Led by by agents of Aeren and her inner circle, the elf slaves slipped away in the tumult. Aeren, unlike the other elven heroes of the revolt, did not perish.
The influx of positive, radiant energy from the astral dominion of Irian during the final ritual sustained her existence even as it ended her biological life. Aeren Kriaddal was transformed into the first of the undying, though to protect this secret the elves claimed that Aeren had died in the revolt, a claim that most scholars today still repeat. The freed slaves escaped in rafts and boats they crafted by the thousands across the Thunder Sea to the small, tropical island continent that lay south of Khorvaire.
They carried with them all the possessions they could manage, including in some cases livestock and even horses. But the giants were not willing to let the entire underpinnings of their civilization—elven slave labor—simply walk away. The giants, threatened again with destruction so soon after having forced the quori to return to the Plane of Dreams, were wholly unprepared to fight another war. In a display of draconic power that has not been seen since, the Light of Siberys and the Eyes of Chronepsis drafted thousands of other dragons into a military force beyond human comprehension.
The flights of dragons blotted out the sun and for the first time since their epic war with the fiends, the full might of Argonessen was brought to bear. When their wrath was spent, the dragons had wreaked almost as much havoc on a continental scale as they had acted to prevent. As a race, they lamented their choice to share their arcane power with the giants.
To the present day, that dreadful error is a stain on the memory of all dragonkind and it is one the masters of Argonessen intend never to repeat. The giant civilizations literally disappeared under this fearsome draconic assault, wiped from the face of Eberron. Some wanted nothing to do with either side and just wanted to find safety from the dragons attack the Umbragen.
As a result, the same trip could take only days on one occasion and months the next. A patch of ground hosting a steamy, overgrown jungle one night becomes a misty conferous forest with the morning sun. Glaciers melt into lakes in hours and deserts sprout temperate flora overnight. According to legend, the curse affects any group of intelligent beings able to establish a sizable civilization on the forsaken continent, so that they are suddenly gripped by homicidal rage and spread out to kill everything in their path including each other.
Those giants who worked with Ourelonastrix and his students used draconic magic to carve out empires and dominate their continent. As powerful as they were, the dragons were mired in tradition, and certain paths of magical inquiry they simply refused to tread. Nonetheless, the dragons remained uninvolved. The elder wyrms of many flights studied the draconic Prophecy, but agreed that it was best not to manipulate its outcome.
They simply traced its myriad paths and watched as fate chose its course. Some scholars have recently suggested that the quori of this age, who belonged to a different race than the quori who serve the Dreaming Dark of Dal Quor today, were aware that the Quor Tarai, the guiding spirit and collective consciousness of the Plane of Dreams, at this time known as the Dreaming Heart, was soon to change, wiping out their entire species. Much like the quori and Inspired of today, the quori of this period may have initiated the invasion and attempted conquest of the world in the hope of preventing the dreams of the thinking beings of Eberron from causing the change in the Quor Tarai and the destruction of their species.
Whatever the root of the Quori-Giant War, it was a struggle that lasted for long centuries. Powerful magical and psionic forces were unleashed by both sides, and, in time, nearly all the arcane knowledge the giants possessed was turned to the war effort. In Argonnessen, students of the draconic Prophecy warned that this struggle could shake the planes of existence themselves, but the Conclave insisted that the dragons remain aloof.
The Quor Tarai soon turned, the Dreaming Heart became the Dreaming Dark and the race of quori who had fought the war were wiped from existence and replaced by the current foul natives of the Plane of Dreams. Their former slaves, the elves and the drow, rose up against their weakened masters. Desperate, the giants began recklessly harnessing their ultimate magical power once more, preparing to unleash the same sacrificial magical forces that had vanquished the quori on the elven rebels.
Perhaps they thought victory was possible, but many historians believe it was pure nihilism—if the titans could not rule the world, they would just as soon destroy it. Shocked and alarmed at the effect the loss of the thirteenth moon had already had on Eberron and the rest of the cosmos, this time the dragons chose to act.
A scaled army poured forth from Argonnessen, with flights of all colors led by the militant wyrms of the Light of Siberys. The conflict was brutal, and its outcome never in doubt. The dragons had no interest in holding territory. They made no effort to avoid civilian casualties; they brought fire, fang, and epic magic to bear in the most destructive ways imaginable.
Their mission accomplished, the dragons returned to Argonnessen to brood. Meanwhile, on Khorvaire, the first of the goblin kingdoms rose to power in the region that would one day become the nations of Breland and Darguun. The goblin races included goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears. In most of the goblin kingdoms, these three related races were dominated by a hobgoblin aristocracy that governed according to the dictum that the strong ruled over the weak, and since the hobgoblins were far larger than their goblin counterparts and far more intelligent than most of the bugbears, they were usually the rulers.
As the goblin civilizations advanced, they were followed by the rise of the first true orc nations in western Khorvaire, in the areas known in later times as the Shadow Marches and the Eldeen Reaches. These orcish states soon competed with the goblin kingdoms for resources and territory.
The Undying Court first appeared in Aerenal some twenty-five thousand years ago. For the elves, following the example of the heroes who had won their freedom from the giants of. Each Aereni family expressed this attitude in a different way. Some wore intricate death masks. Others tattooed their faces with skulls or similar patterns.
Members of the family line of Jhaelian went so far as to mimic the appearance of the undying while they were still alive, using magical and alchemical substances to induce rigor and apparent decomposition of the flesh.
Unlike undead creatures whose animating energies were drawn from Dolurrh, the deathless elves who came to comprise the Undying Court were animated by radiant energy drawn from the plane of Irian using special necromantic rituals first discovered by Aeren herself. The undying were powerful beings of a generally benevolent cast.
As for the undying themselves, they were concentrated in the great cities of the jungled Aereni interior. Regardless of their family origin, all Aereni respected the undying as heroes of their race and always treated them with respect and deference.
An undying soldier or councilor is an undead creature, but it is charged with radiant energy and sustained by the devotion of its descendants. Vampires, liches, and their ilk are abhorrent creatures that destroy life to preserve their own existence, and they are seen as a perversion of the undying by the elves.
The creation of mindless undead, such as common zombies and skeletons, was seen by the Aereni as an unforgivable insult to the body and soul of the deceased. Two forces actually governed the island-continent of Aerenal. The Sibling Kings held all temporal power. By ancient tradition, the elven nation had to be ruled by a bonded brother and sister.
When either sibling died, the Undying Court selected a new pair to rule. The Sibling Kings were seen as the living embodiment of Aerenal, and the conduit for the divine power of the Undying Court.
The northern steppes of Aerenal were inhabited by a different cultural grouping of Aereni elves called the Tairnadal. The Tairnadal had a more active and aggressive culture than the Aereni elves of the jungle.
They sought to honor their ancestors by emulating their heroic deeds in the present. The Valaes Tairn was the largest; these elves believed that glory in battle was the highest goal, regardless of the nature of the foe.
Relations between the Tairnadal and the elves of the Undying Court are cordial. They honor the same ancestors and respect the shared blood that flows through their veins, though the Tairnadal were served by a different clerical order known as the Keepers of the Past who venerated the spirits of ancestors already passed rather than the undying. The southern Aereni feel that the Tairnadal waste their blood by refusing to become undying after death; the northern elves believe the elves of the jungle spend too much time dreaming of the past instead of acting in the present.
Following the rise of the Undying Court on Aerenal, there was the first recorded skirmish between the elves and the dragons of Argonessen, which set a pattern of long periods of peace punctuated by short, devastating battles every few hundred years between the Aereni and small flights of the dragons.
These whispers imply that the elf was inspired with the gift of prophecy just before the first ritual and sacrifice that intiated the rebellion against the giants, and laid out a plan for the elves to follow once they were free. Supposedly the undying now work to fulfill this prophecy in their own patient way, and this pursuit is what drives a faction of dragons on Argonnessen mad with rage. This prophecy, these same scholars believe, is what has led to the dragon assaults on Aerenal over the course of so many years.
These dragons seem to believe that the prophecy of the Aereni conflicts in some way with the pursuit of their own draconic Prophecy. The culturally advanced goblin clans of the Dhakaani united the other goblin nations of Khorvaire sixteen thousand years ago to create the Empire of Dhakaan, the greatest civilization the goblin peoples of Eberron had ever known.
It is said that Jhazaal could win the heart of a listener with but a word, or bring down an army with a scream.
The Dhakaani were able to come to terms with the gnomes of Zilargo through an accord in which the gnomes promised obedience and tribute to the Dhakaani monarch in return for continued autonomy in their own homeland.
The goblins had less cordial relations with the lizardfolk clans of the Talenta Plains, who resisted the imposition of Dhakaani rule over those lands. Their clans still reside there to this day. One of the major differences between the Dhakaani and the other goblins of Khorvaire that allowed them to achieve such success was the degree of interracial cooperation within a clan. Among the other goblin peoples of this time, the strong ruled the weak. Leadership was founded on fear, and the weaker races hated the stronger tyrants.
Among the Dhakaani goblins, this situation was not the case. Each species had a role to serve in society, and each embraced this role. The hobgoblins ruled not through force of arms but because the goblins and bugbears respected their ability to maintain structure and discipline.
Hobgoblins had always formed the foundation of Dhakaani society, from its beginnings to the present day. They were the most disciplined of the goblins, both in battle and at court. The hobgoblins ruled the Dhakaani state as the nobility and in the person of the emperor, and their power was rarely contested; their leadership skills had been proven over the centuries so that the bugbears and goblins accepted their respective and subordinate political roles in Dhakaani society.
A Dhakaani army was both tightly structured and surprisingly flexible. Their military was based around small units of goblin infantry that could quickly adapt tactics and formations to evolving combat conditions. Dhakaani hobgoblins rarely adhered to any sort of code of honor in battle unless they belonged to a special Dhakaani warrior sect known as the samurai4 , nor did they seek glory like the bugbear berserkers. A common hobgoblin soldier took pride in his skills but in battle his only goal was to achieve an objective as quickly and efficiently as possible, whether it was killing the enemy, seizing a gate, or scouting a location.
While there were a few exceptions in goblin folklore, military service was traditionally seen as a role solely for male hobgoblins. Females, however, had many important roles in Dhakaani society. The most common form of arcane magic among the Dhakaani was that of the bard, and this innate talent typically manifested mostly among the females of the clans. They used tales of past glory and ancestral deeds to bind goblin communities together and inspire them to a greater future. Alchemy, healing, and diplomacy were also seen as female arts; the male hobgoblins fought battles, and the females healed their wounds, both physical and political.
From an early age, bugbears were raised to think of themselves as the heroes and martyrs of Dhakaani civilization. They were taught to believe that their strength was the single greatest weapon of the Empire.
Most were eager to prove their mettle and worth in battle. In combat, bugbear barbarians served as skirmishers and shock troops, smashing into the ranks of their enemies and using their immense strength to scatter and break formations while the strictly disciplined hobgoblin ranks moved up behind them.
With their prolific rate of reproduction, goblins formed the largest segment of any Dhakaani community. In the final decades of the Last War, a movement grew up—particularly among certain mercenary companies—to abandon national loyalty and any pretense of allegience to a united Galifar. This movement adopted the precepts of the Code of Honorable Devotion, and mistakenly believed that its roots lay in the political philosophy of the dwarves of the Mror Holds.
Dwarves from the Mror Holds also still devote themselves to the samurai tradition. The early Dhakaani architects carved their city into the stone instead of raising towers above the ground.
The goblin miners pushed into Khyber and discovered that a vast lake of molten magma that burned with a supernatural heat blazed beneath the metropolis.
Later, the Dhakaani architects raised monolithic buildings that covered each of the plateaus over the Dagger River where a manifest zone to Syrania existed. These constructions would later serve as the foundation for Sharn, the City of Towers, the largest metropolis of Khorvaire in the present age. The goblin empire never recovered from the conflict and its greatest city was never restored.
Vvaraak, a rogue female black dragon of Argonessen, was a Child of Eberron, a dragon dedicated to the service of the Progenitor of all life. Vvaraak had foreseen in the draconic Prophecy that another great disaster like the Quori- Giant War would threaten the very existence of Eberron at some time in the future.
When the Conclave of Argonessen showed no interest in acting to prevent this potential catastrophe, Vvaraak abandoned the continent of her birth and traveled to the Shadow Marches in western Khorvaire, the home of the orcish peoples. She taught the orcs the basics of druidic magic and how to channel the primal power of Eberron herself, an alternative to the arcane and divine powers already known to most of the peoples of the world.
Vvaraak became the founder of the first true sect of druids in the world. In time, druidic lore became the spiritual heart of orcish culture.
The orcish druids who formed the Gatekeepers eventually passed on this knowledge millennia later to other peoples like the shifters and humans who called the Eldeen Reaches home.
Though the true origins of the dwarven kingdoms of Khorvaire are now lost to the mists of prehistory, it is known that soon after their arrival in Khorvaire a unified dwarven nation was established by the clans from the Frostfell that spread deep beneath the Ironroots. Within this kingdom, recalled in dwarven legend as the Kingdom of Stone, it came to pass that twelve dwarven warriors were exiled to the surface for the commission of crimes that produced barbarism and unrest. These exiles were forced to leave their underground homes with their followers by Lord Kordran Mror, the ruler of the Kingdom of Stone.
The gateways to the Kingdom of Stone below were closed off using powerful runic magic and the dwarven exiles were told by Lord Mror that they would remain apart from their brethren in the deeps until they had discovered the honor that their barbaric ways had prevented them from earning.
Alongside the exiles a clan of wardens was sent to the lands above to watch over these gates and reopen them when the time came—a clan called Kundarak. For thousands of years to come, these exile dwarven clans fought among themselves for control of the lands that they ironically named the Mror Holds, both for dominance and for the right to return to the Kingdom of Stone.
Even the appearance of the Mark of Warding among the Kundarak clan did nothing to stem the inter-dwarven conflict; indeed, it fast became a source of bitterness and distrust among the other clans, who developed no such dragonmarks.
Forced to set aside their violent feuds by their human overlords, the dwarven exiles created a common culture and found the honor they had long sought. In the end, though, this understanding came too late.
The warlike Valaes Tairn sect of Aereni elves established a colony on southern Khorvaire in what is now the present-day Kingdom of Valenar some nine millennia before the founding of Galifar. Peaceful coexistence between the elves and the Dhakaani goblins did not last for long and the elves eventually launched a great war with the Dhakaani Empire that ended inconclusively for both sides.
The Valaes Tairn elves abandoned their colony to the goblins when another clash with the dragons threatened Aerenal and their scimitars were needed to defend the elven homeland.
The number of Valaes Tairn who were needed in Aerenal would have left the colony all but undefended before the advance of the Dhakaani, so the elves simply abandoned it rather than make a hopeless, though glorious, last stand. But the Valaes Tairn promised one day to honor the spirits of their ancestors by returning to Khorvaire.
The Daelkyr War decimated the western reaches of Khorvaire when nine thousand years ago the Far Realm of Xoriat, the Plane of Madness, became coterminous with Eberron and the daelkyr lords and their terrible armies of aberrations—mind flayers, beholders, neogi, foulspawn, dolgrims and dolgaunts—invaded the world. Determined to refashion Eberron into another nightmare version of their native Xoriat, the daelkyr and their aberrations passed through a planar portal to arrive in western Khorvaire.
Their army was met by the legions of the Dhakaani Empire and the conflict between the two forces raged for millennia. The daelkyr would have succeeded in their insane plan to begin reshaping the natural order of Eberron into an extension of the Plane of Madness if not for the intervention of the orcish druids of the Gatekeeper sect.
The daelkyr were not immobilized in Khyber like the fiendish Overlords but could move around at will through the Dragon Below. In contrast, the orcs of the Gatekeeper sect remained ever vigilant for signs that their primal wards on Khyber were weakening or that another planar incursion from Xoriat was imminent.
A daelkyr resembled a perfectly formed athletic human male, possessing unearthly beauty and pupiless white eyes. Despite this outward appearance, daelkyr were actually sexless and did not reproduce, since they were formed from the chaotic fabric of the plane of Xoriat itself.
At least six daelkyr possibly more inhabit Eberron in the present day. The surviving commanders of the daelkyr army that invaded Khorvaire millennia ago, they were sealed deep in Khyber and cut off from their home plane. For thousands of years, the daelkyr have bided their time in the depths of Khyber, waiting for Xoriat to be able to touch Eberron once more. The daelkyr are immortal and endlessly patient, and their manner of thinking is almost impossible for mortals or even other planar denizens to understand.
For the daelkyr, destroying worlds appears to be a form of art, and until Xoriat and Eberron are again linked, the daelkyr are indulging their other sordid escapades.
Some are poets, musicians, or sculptors, although their works are invariably bizarre and alien to human senses. Their preferred canvas is flesh, for they are the makers of monsters. Dolgrims, dolgaunts, foulspawn, beholders, mind flayers, neogi, tsochar and other hideous aberrations are the legacy of the daelkyr—living weapons created expressly to destroy life.
The subterranean citadel of a daelkyr lord usually supports a garrison of dolgrims, dolgaunt and foulspawn lieutenants, and illithid commanders. One might have a preference for oozes. Another breeds psionic vermin, while a third crafts hideous and deadly carnivorous plants. Their experiments— creating new races by twisting existing creatures into new forms—take time. The ancient seals placed by the Gatekeepers trap the daelkyr beneath Eberron and keep Xoriat from becoming coterminous with the world again, but the daelkyr have not made a concerted effort to destroy these seals.
Their motives are inscrutable—above all things, the daelkyr are the lords of the Plane of Madness. Insanity and corruption are the currency they deal in. Terribly weakened by the Daelkyr War, the Dhakaani Empire was shattered by infighting and constant civil strife in the wake of the conflict, eventually leading to the collapse of the great goblin civilization into scattered goblin tribes.
A small grouping of five goblin clans descended from the Dhakaani known as the Heirs of Dhakaan managed to maintain the culture and history of their lost empire in the region of Khorvaire that became the present-day goblin nation of Darguun. These Dhakaani heirs never gave up hope that one day they would be able to recover the glories of their ancient past even as their races fall back into barbarism. Like the Dhakaani, the orc nations of the Shadow Marches were also devastated by the Daelkyr War and degenerated into scattered clans that call the Marches home.
About half of the orcs pursue a simple, agrarian lifestyle and continue to observe the druidic traditions of the Gatekeepers as taught by the black dragon Vvaraak. Unfortunately, the psychological scars of the Daelkyr War were most deep among the orcs of the Marches and at least half of the clans in the region eventually gave up the benevolent spiritual traditions of the Gatekeepers for the worship of Khyber. Despite the all- inclusive name for these beliefs as the Cults of the Dragon Below, these cults had nothing in common beyond devotion to the darkly insane forces of the daelkyr and fiends imprisoned within Khyber by the Gatekeepers and the couatl.
They did not communicate with one another and did not usually share the same aims or religious interpretations.
Thousands of years of research into necromancy and the magical teachings of Argonnessen produced the Undying Court, an alliance of undying elves with a collective magical and divine might that rivaled the fiendish Overlords of the first age of the world. Since that time—nearly twenty-five thousand years before the founding of Galifar—dragons and elves have been at war.
The tides of strife ebb and flow, and centuries might pass between battles. The basis of this age-old conflict, and its conduct, is another of the mysteries of Argonnessen. In truth, the elves have never faced the full power of Argonnessen. The fact that the Undying Court has been able to hold off the dragons remains an impressive feat, but the undying have never faced the true power that ravaged a continent.
Those who study this puzzling behavior ask: Why not? What motivates this seemingly endless struggle? If the dragons truly wished to eliminate the elves, why do they not commit their full forces to the task? If they do not care enough to do so, why do they continue to fight in the first place? Thus, they cannot agree en masse that Aerenal should be laid low.
Another possibility is that the struggle is a form of exercise for the dragons, a proving ground for the younger warriors of the Light of Siberys. Conversely, it might be that the wars are fought to test the elves and harden them for some future conflict foreseen in the Prophecy, just as a soldier will sharpen his blade in preparation for battles to come. The dragons might be unwilling to share the secrets of their arcane power with lesser races, but they can still push the lower creatures to reach their full potential.
The long struggle with the dragons has certainly forced the clerics and wizards of the Aereni and the warriors of the Tairnadal to master the arts of battle and magic. The elder wyrms of Argonnessen offer no explanations for their actions, nor do they negotiate.
Only two instances of elves and dragons working side by side are known, and both involve the noble line of the House of Vol. Allies of Vol in the present time claim that her birth was intended to forge a bond between the two races and bring an end to the constant wars.
Others believe that the emerald-skinned dragons sought to gain control of the Mark of Death through their half-dragon offspring. But this alliance was short-lived and involved minimal communication between the allies.
Once the House of Vol fell into shadow, the dragons returned to Argonnessen, and in a few centuries the cycle of war began anew. A more well-regarded rogue was Vvaraak, the black dragon who trained the first Gatekeepers, and brought the secrets of druidic magic to Khorvaire.
A true Child of Eberron, Vvaraak foresaw a disaster that would wound the world itself. Frustrated, Vvaraak abandoned her elders and her flight, traveled across the world, and began training humanoids and other creatures in the use of druidic magic and primal power.
Although she is best known for teaching the orcs of the west coast of Khorvaire, Vvaraak had other students. Vvaraak stayed in the Shadow Marches of Khorvaire for less than a century, and her final fate is unknown. Perhaps she lived out her final days in humanoid form, moving among her students and hiding from the angry Eyes of Chronepsis. Perhaps she descended into Khyber to teach the denizens of the deep. Some say that she returned to Argonnessen, that her act of rebellion was actually a carefully calculated move on behalf of the draconic Conclave.
If so, it could be that the dragons. Of course, it is possible that the invasion of the daelkyr from Xoriat was not the great threat to the natural order Vvaraak foresaw in the future. If this is the case, what monumental danger still lies ahead for the world?
North of the Eldeen Reaches, life gradually seeps out of the earth. The lush forests and great trees slowly fade into a broad tableland of dried soil and cracked volcanic rock. Further north, the elevation rises into the bleak chain of mountains known as the Shadowcrags, then drops dramatically. The land beyond, a highland plateau, is broken into badlands, a network of canyons and mesas that forms a natural labyrinth leading out to a plain of blackened sand and volcanic glass.
This is the Demon Wastes—the last remnants of the rakshasa and fiendish civilization that ruled Khorvaire millions of years before the rise of goblins or humans during the Age of Demons.
Amid the ruins of infernal cities, fiendish creatures searched for fresh blood while ancient forces watch from the shadows. In this realm of death and desolation, long-forgotten treasures and primeval secrets hid in the blasted wastes and the rakshasas and fiends known as the Lords of Dust plotted endlessly to corrupt the hearts of men. They acted to keep travelers from entering the Wastes, preferring to convince with words before drawing weapons. Kalok Shash is in actuality the same divine force revered by the Church of the Silver Flame that is composed of the collective souls of the celestial couatls, although it could be difficult to convince a templar of the Flame that a branded orc barbarian is a champion of his faith.
Through the light of the Kalok Shash, new members are constantly called to join the clans and keep the ghost guardians strong lest the dark powers overwhelm them.
Clan warriors carried the brand of the binding flame on their skin as they believed that these brands helped to protect them from demonic possession. The Labyrinth is a convoluted series of canyons and depressions carved into the flat highland plain of the Demon Wastes as though by gargantuan claws. One of the oldest of these clans, the Maruk, has a long and bloody history of fulfilling this mission.
The sly and clever rakshasas often manage to slip past the vigilant eyes of the Maruk guards, but the sacred warriors of the binding flame are not without their resources. The Maruk clan also has a higher percentage of paladins than the other three clans of ghost guardians.
The two-hundred-and-ten-foot-tall greatpine Oalian, the future Great Druid of the Eldeen Reaches, is awakened to sentience through the primal efforts of the orcish Gatekeepers. Oalian will eventually become the leader of the Warden of the Woods druidic sect in the Reaches but will remain a font of primal wisdom for all of the druidic sects of Eberron.
The first dragonmarks appeared among the intelligent races of Khorvaire over three thousand years ago. For centuries, the dragons and other explorers of Eberron had known that Prophecy marks were formed by such seemingly random forces as coral growth, lava flows and earthquakes. These were always the symbols of the draconic Prophecy studied by the dragons of Argonessen.
Yet beginning three thousand years ago, such symbols, called dragonmarks, began to appear on the bodies of various related lineages of elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, humans and half-orcs. Like the earlier Prophecy marks, the dragonmarks represented primal forces that were tied to both the thirteen moons of Eberron and the planes of existence. As such, a dragonmarked heir was actually a pawn of the Prophecy: Among the first dragonmarks to appear was the Mark of Hospitality among the nomadic halflings of the Talenta Plains, which eventually lead to the formation of House Ghallanda twelve hundred years later during the time of Karrn the Conqueror see below.
For those accustomed to the hard life of the plains, the powers of the mark were a real boon. The halflings knew nothing of the draconic Prophecy and concluded instead that the dragonmarks were a divine blessing and that those so blessed were obliged to use this gift to help others in need. The majority of marked halflings chose to follow this call and came together to form a new tribe.
They sponsored glorious feasts for the heroes of the plains, standing apart from feuds and tribal conflicts. The helpful hounds were welcome in every camp and assisted Talentans of all the tribes. This convention would later be adopted by all of the dragonmarked houses of Khorvaire after the War of the Mark.
The Conclave gave its conditional approval for the creation of this organization of relatively young dragons—known as the Chamber—and for the creation of a territory where its members could operate that was formed from the Vast of Argonessen. This area was renamed the Tapestry. The Chamber became a highly influential—and almost completely secret—power group in the political affairs of Khorvaire over the next three millennia, seeking to manipulate the common races of Khorvaire to bring about certain outcomes of the Prophecy.
But even the members of the Chamber sometimes pursued wildly different agendas. The dragonmarked families would eventually form themselves into noble houses that were the most important elements in the magical economy of the continent of Khorvaire. Richard Baker of WotC noticed it, loved it, contacted the author, and arranged for Wizards to publish it officially.
If you've ever dreamed that your fan-created work for Dungeons and Dragons might be published by the people who make the game, well, Brian James managed to pull it off. What It Is. The Forgotten Realms is a huge and rambling place. That's no surprise, considering the number of authors and game designers who have added to the Realms over the past decades. With the quantity of products, however, it's often impractical for a single DM to understand the scope of a campaign's history or to understand what's happening at the same time elsewhere in the campaign world.
Brian James made it possible by creating one massive and coherent timeline of the Forgotten Realms' published history, listing dates and events from every single Realms product published by TSR and Wizards of the Coast. The amount of work and attention to detail needed to pull this off somewhat boggles the mind, but the results are delightful for fans of the setting. It's particularly effective to see this history collected in chronological order because the Realms' rich history has a variety of ways to count years in its calendar.
Tracking what happens at what time isn't easy for DMs who set their game there. This book solves that challenge neatly. But there are others: Northreckoning used by the city of Waterdeep, the Silver Marches and the Northern lands. But perhaps most interesting is the Roll of Years. This system is derived from two different seers who prophesied the future and gave names to most, but not all, of the years to come.
The Grand History of the Realms is a book that has long been needed by any DM serious about trying to remain faithful to the history of the Forgotten Realms. The story of its creation is equally interesting. In that document he had compiled the timeline of every Forgotten Realms publication such as Richard Lee Byers? Year of Rogue Dragons. The document quickly made its way through Wizards of the Coast?
You see, Wizards had several fragmented timelines that were based on previously created sourcebooks, but no one had ever attempted to integrate them into a single, continuous history. Of that effort was born The Grand History of the Realms. Each page features a full color background that makes the entire book appear to have been printed on old parchment. The organization of the book is simple.