Karrnathi Spy Campaign (My Players Keep Out!)

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My current Campaign is wrapping up soon, and I've been itching to run an Eberron game.  I wanted to let the players have some say in the type of campaign, so we met last week to discuss it.  They decided to go with a Spy themed camapign.  I had figured such a game would see the PCs working for Breland or Aundair, but my crew surprised me and voted for Karrnath.

Karrnath is complex, and while they seem more villaous at first blush I've always thought it would be interesting run a game there.  I've been re-reading the old Five Nations book for ideas, and searching around for information about Karrnath's intelligence agency, the Dark Cabinet.  There isn't much, which I suppose allows me to build it to my needs.  Does anyone know of any good resources for this group? 

I figure this campaign offers a chance to bring Kaius and Vol in (and lucky me, I'm pretty sure most of my players don't know that whole story despite the old books putting it out there for all to see).  I figure the Aurum and the Emerald Claw would come up fairly often, as well as missions to rival nations, but I can always use some suggestions.

Anyone have any thoughts about espionage, Karrnath style?  Other than the ECS, Five Nations, and the recent Eye on Eberron articles, are there any good resources for getting a good feel for Karrnath? 

I love D&D more than I could ever love a human child.

Jeff LaSala's The Darkwood Mask is a Eberron novel set in Karrnath; it may provide you with insight.

Now, what makes you think that Karrnathi intelligence operations would be different from any of the other Five Nations? 

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Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

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Now, what makes you think that Karrnathi intelligence operations would be different from any of the other Five Nations? 

I assume each nation's intelligence operations are soemwhat different due to the political landscape.  Yes, they all have missions to gather intel or sabaotage rival governments, but I doubt any other government is going to want to (for example) steal rituals to animate the dead from Aerenal. 

I envision Karrnath having more domestic espionage going on.  The nation has taken a drastic new direction since Kaius II (and before him Moranna) took power, I imagine there are a lot of hardliners (and Vol adherants, and Emerald Claw supporters) who would love to see the king fail or die.  I envision situations similar to Russia in the early 90's.

I'm thinking along the lines that Kaius doesn't fully trust his existing spy network for these reasons, and is looking for new blood (pun maybe intended) that he can trust... perhaps to root out the enemy within.  As is often the cas ein Eberron, you have to ask who might be secretly supporting such forces--other than of obvious BoV and OotEC.  I would think most other governments would prefer a Karrnath committed to peace, but destabilization could be good too

I love D&D more than I could ever love a human child.

I think a Karrn spy campaign would be great because you have elements of work that focus outwards and elements that focus in. I think of situations like the first Robert Downey Sherlock Holmes movie with the Lord Blackwell character. There is an evil high ranking government official who is in an untouchable secret society that is full of members of high society. The politics are the hardest elements to get right in a game but you have lots of  scenarios where the party is in a room with the bbeg but cannot do anything without proof. The party can be used and sent into situations that seem like normal missions but they are revealed to be set ups for their death because they are getting too close to the truth at home. 

This has a lot of arcs and cool elements that could have a great gothic/Victorian inquisitive theme running throughout.

What sort of missions do you have planned for the start?  I liked the off handed remark about the mission to Aerenal to steal rituals. Quick ones to get the planning options up would be (for me):

Investigate a Manor ( Shadowghast style) of a thought to be dead Karrnathi officer. The reason is that he has been seen and was last in possession of state secrets of one nature or another. They find him very much alive and very much mad/undead/in the midst of creating an Eldrich machine/ working for another government/etc. 

Recover an airship that is crewed and in a twisted way powered by undead that was lost in a crash on an Audairian earth mote. The Audair wizards have repaired the ship and plan to make use of it in a plot to implicate Karrn in some terror act to destabilize their diplomacy or even restart the war. I picture the airship a skull crested viking longship design with tattered sails, iron steampunk style fortifications and a blended elemental of fire and brimstone that is fused with necrotic energy that gives life to the crew and powers the ship. Make the Audarians a terror group that control the earth mote and give them a Vol advisor with some Emerald Claw agents to help stir the pot and you have tie ins that go wherever you want. 

They need to plant a device and perform a ritual in Sharn Tower that interrupts its manifest zone connection that allows it to stay standing. This will cause a tower to collapse. There is a fine line between espionage and acts of terror. Make it tougher when they find out the team that was in place and local is in fact an Emerald Claw sect. You can up the difficulty by picking the nature of the tower. The Cannith enclave to punish them for helping Breland, an ambassadors residence, etc. Then there is the upping of the ante when they are tasked with framing others for the deed. 

A deep behind enemy lines platoon of scouts and recon are found in the Eldeen Reaches. They don't believe, or haven't heard the war is over and are holding a tower against a large force.  Fearing a diplomatic problem because they are led by an officer of Galifars blood the Eldeen army is holding them in place awaiting Karrn officials to come and inform them of the end of the war. When the party gets there they find that the outfit has reason to be wary. The tower is a prison holding an aberration or demon in place and it has been infecting the minds of some of the soldiers (who may seem nutty to the party because they have been out of touch with civilization for so long), the army outside is actually led by a secret cult member who worships the creature and is looking for any excuse to storm in and release it while the Karrn officer knows what it is but cannot find a way to kill it.

You can have a lot of fun with this campaign.  
Great sugegstions SPQRA.  The Aerni mission had been a throw away comment, but as soon as a typed it, I added it to my idea file.

I envision Karrnath a lot like the fictionalized versions of the Warsw Pact nations during the cold war.  So I am trying to think about the types of mssions you would see in an old spy novel, and adapt it to Eberron.  Things like thwarting a group of Thrane agents attempting to destroy the undead creation facilities, preventing a powerful necromancer from defecting to Aundair, or infiltrating a House Kundarak enclave to edit the records of Breland's treasury account.

I've been thinking of the international relationships a lot to figure out the types of missions.  I see the bigegst tension with Thrane.  Breland represents a major threat, so they would simultaneously want to keep the peace, while underminding their power base.  By the end of the war Aundair was a minor player since they were gathering strength, but with their espionage activities I see plenty of conter-intelligence directed that way.  Anything that destabilizes the other nations, or pits them against one another has potential. 

I love D&D more than I could ever love a human child.

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