Starting A Stormreach/Xen'drik Campaign

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I don't mean to sound completely unimaginative or desperate but despite the fact that I've been thinking a lot about potential Eberron campaigns I can run, I can't seem to come up with one now that I actually have a group to run for.

Here's the situation: two of my players will be playing Silver Flame devotees, one a paladin the other a cleric, which is cool since I've always found Thrane fascinating despite the fact that it is often casually and unfairly oversimplified as "That Place Where Christian Fundamentalist Bigots Live and Hate Everyone Who Isn't Christian"

The setting is going to be in Xen'drik/Stormreach and the loose premise is that they're working for as treasure hunters for the Silver Flame authorities in Thrane -- possibly even the Argentum. The rest of the party consists of a Drow Hunter, a Warforged Warlock (conceptually an experimental construct imbued with infernal energy found by the rest of the party prior to campaign start) and a Valenar or Khoravar Fighter of some kind.

I think the following factors are the source of my writer's/DM's block:

- My girlfriend, who plays the cleric, already runs another Eberron game that uses dragonmark conspiracies and renegade artificers and magebreeders heavily. This means that I'm making a conscious effort not to rely on The Houses, The Lord of Blades or Cannith secrets as part of this campaign's plotweave.

- Many of the pre-written adventure contents that I enjoy cannibalizing and repurposing tend to give more hooks to a 'centrist' group such as Brelish patriots or soldiers or loyal citizens of Sharn, and don't seem to give enough motivation for Aundarians, Karrnathi or Thranish.

- The party/players are a strange mix, since the Silver Flame players are role-players who want something meaty for their characters to chew on - which I'm all in favor of indulging -- but I don't want to alienate the guys who just want to hit stuff and couldn't really care about the political complexities of the setting.

I know I'm making this sound more difficult than it really is. But at the heart of it is that I need ideas that engage the Silver Flame/Thrane aspect of the characters but don't depend largely on 'weeding out evil' and I need a compelling motivation for their patrons. For example, the Argentum or any artifact collecting entity affiliated with the Silver Flame is interested in getting stuff, but I don't see what they want to actually do with say, the Ashen Crown or ancient giant technology, that ties into the goals of the Thranish government. 

Anyway, if anything, I'm just open to seeing a boat load of random suggestions flooding this thread that could help me figure out how to bring deeper connections between Thranish backgrounds and Xen'drik secrets. :D 

For the artifact collecting keep in mind that Sekinirot The Scar That Abides( a fiendish overlord) is imprisoned below Stormreach so there might be some Coatl/Dragon and Demon artifacts from the age of Demons that the church and the Whispering Flame would be interested in.


Also stop to consider the warforged warlock (infernalforged ?) the first warforged (or Quorforged) were found on Xen'drik and are giant tech, perhaps your warforged player would be interested in learning about the beginnings and secrets of his race.

Another thing is that the the Valenar Warrior in your party reveres an ancestor that fought in the slave rebellion on Xen'drik so he/she could probably discover more of his/her elvish heritage.

The most player enjoyed setting I ran in Xendrik was an aqueduct network that ran between cities of the old giant empire. I had it as wide as a two lane road with raised sidewalk paths on either side. I had it running through the jungle canopy or over it when necessary. Like a highway in the sky. It had small villages that were built upon high to house the slaves that cleaned and maintained it. I had it clogged with jungle debris and new growth and heavy rains could bring flash floods that pushed up walls of debris.  I had it occupied by jungle cats hunting, drow traps for food, and an assortment of territorial beasts and groups. It was like a dungeon outside. There were shoots that dropped down to ruins of the community's it ran to and large complexes that received its waters. I treated it as more than a watersystem. It was a thing that barges could travel with trade goods in ancient times and had plenty of cool little way stations that housed unique encounters (water wheel houses, ancient spas, tiered hanging gardens, etc).

As for the Flame in Xendrik. The accursed gnomes of Zil have brought home a device of ancient evil power. It cannot be destroyed but the giants had learned to lock it away in an ancient temple of theirs.  The trick is getting it back there as the High Priestess foresaw before the gnomes (the Trust) catch up and take it back. Or the Gatekeepers try to take it away to put in their own insufficient stasis. Or the Karnethi agents in that green armor catch up to them to steal it. Or the Elves of Aerenal take it to their homeland to further their blasphemous way of life. Or the tribe of primitive giants that seem to be drawn to it like moths to a flame can recover their 'precious'.  Or.... You get the point. A reverse treasure hunt, like the tossing of a certain ring into a certain volcano.

To incorporate Stormreach I would give the party a device that lets them link portal back to a specific location.  I would make it the only reliable way to portal in Xendrik. I would make it "land" in Xendrik in a somewhat public location. Atop a lighthouse for example. This way its use could be risky because if they get into a fight and make a run or it witthis one of the power groups chasing them could be waiting for them there. In this they could also return to Stormreach as they needed for translations with the local expert, healing/raising,  reports on the other groups from local Flame agents, etc.
The two Thanish plyers could not only be working as treasure-hunters, but also as missionaries? They know they're going to spend time in Stormreach between quests and will need non-Thranish contacts, so why not get to converting.

I'm sure some other people won't be too happy about that.

But for the real meat?   You have to find a way to connect the Flame to Xen'drik.    Maybe on one of the early quests find ancient writings from Giants or Drow that tell a story eerily similar to the birth of the Flame.  they can follow that up searching for more information and eventually hear of a Xendrik flame, or a couatl sighting or both. I'm just spitting stuff out off the top of my head and I haven't had my nose in my Eberron books for a while, but I'm considering restrting my own long-dead campaign.
Character optimization is a group decision not an individual one.

For the artifact collecting keep in mind that Sekinirot The Scar That Abides( a fiendish overlord) is imprisoned below Stormreach so there might be some Coatl/Dragon and Demon artifacts from the age of Demons that the church and the Whispering Flame would be interested in.


Also stop to consider the warforged warlock (infernalforged ?) the first warforged (or Quorforged) were found on Xen'drik and are giant tech, perhaps your warforged player would be interested in learning about the beginnings and secrets of his race.

Another thing is that the the Valenar Warrior in your party reveres an ancestor that fought in the slave rebellion on Xen'drik so he/she could probably discover more of his/her elvish heritage.


Thanks for the ideas, everybody. All awesome.

@Charlemegne: I'm definitely working on making the hellforged a plot hook, since any living construct of exotic origin and unusual ability is kind of a plot hook, since from a story perspective,  -- as far as your common non-heroic Eberronian is concerned -- warforged have a known shape and set of strengths and limitations and anything to suggest otherwise is a mystery waiting to be investigated.

I don't think I fully understand many of the myths of Eberron. Couatls imprisoned all the Demons, and the Silver Flame is just one of these right? So are all the other bound demons of religious significance to Flame devotees? (Other than of course, that they are evil and it is the duty of all Flame devotees to stop evil). The artifacts are certainly interesting of course, but I'm wondering how to make Sekinirot into a major threat at least as far as the late heroic tier to early paragon tier is concerned.
The coatls bound the demons b y sacrificing themselves and thier collective souls became the Silver Flame juust like Tira did when she faced Bel Shalor.
To go into a bit more detail, the Couatls and Dragons worked together during the Age of Demons to combat the Overlords. They began to use the Draconic Prophecy to properly plan events that would lead to the fall and imprisonment of the Overlords. The end of that battle was the sacrifice of (most of) the Couatls to form the Silver Flame. The Flame alone did not bind the Overlords. The very souls of the vast majority of the Overlords are physically trapped within massive Khyber Dragonshards burried deep in Khyber. What the Flame did was essentially ensure that the they remained trapped within the shards. I believe that the Flame also helps to keep the majority of the fiends down in Khyber, but I may be mistaken about that part.

Now, the Flame is powerful, but so are the Overlords. Through manipulation of the Prophecy by the Lords of Dust, Bel Shalor was released from his prison. Fiends spread across the land and darkness fell over what was Thrane. They called 299YK The Year of Blood and Fire. It was during this time that Tira Miron (then a paladin of Dol Arrah) was contacted by a Couatl and told how she could stop Bel Shalor from fully escaping. Her sword was forged in part from a piece of Bel Shalor's Khyber shard prison and she accepted the Silver Flame as the divine force that could stop the Overlord. She and the Couatl sacrificed themselves in the final battle, joining their souls with the Silver Flame, strengthening it once more and rebinding Bel Shalor. Tira drove the sword into Bel Shalor, transforming the dark flame that he embodied into a silver font, an extension of the Silver Flame itself. This is the portion of the Silver Flame visible in Flamekeep, where some say Tira Miron's sword lies embedded in the ground, the small portion of Bel Shalor's prison tying him to that spot.

The thing is, Bel Shalor is no longer bound in the giant Khyber shard prison. It's the raw divine power of the Silver Flame keeping him at bay... which has given him a direct connection to the Flame. It is through the Silver Flame that he whispers words of corruption to others, tempting them to commit evil acts in the name of good. Some say that he planned to be bound by the Silver Flame once more, knowing that he would have easy access to souls all across Eberron. The closer you are to the Silver Flame, the closer you are to the Shadow in the Flame.
Call me Ender.
I'm wondering how to make Sekinirot into a major threat at least as far as the late heroic tier to early paragon tier is concerned.

Sakinnirot was another of the Overlords bound when the Flame was created. He was the dominant figure of Xen'drik, demanding ovedience from not only the native populations, but from other Overlords in his territory. Needless to say, he was not well liked. He conquered the continent, gaining power from the civilizations he enslaved. He finds unfocused rage unappealing, preferring his followers to be patient and hone their wrath. He loathes the Dragonmarked Houses and grows a bit stronger each time their disputes end in violence.

Nobody outside of his own Lords of Dust followers know the name Sakinnirot, and even they dare not speak it. They say that he won't allow anyone to speak his name until he has risen back to power and then only those he has crushed beneath his heel will be permitted to utter his true name. The Giants of Xen'drik had discovered tables telling stories of how there had been a powerful ruler who has maintained his control through slavery... leading the Giants to follow in his footsteps. Their ultimate demise pleased and strengthened The Scar that Abides, and he waits for the next civilization foolish enough to tread the same path.

City of Stormreach had some ideas for involving this Overlord. One was House Kundarak digging beneath the Tower of Kol Korran and how the further they dig, the closer they get to Sakinnirot's resting place. Another was your "guy trying to release Overlord" plot. What I'd do, if I wanted to bring Sakinnirot into play would be to have your own plotline going on in Stormreach/Xen'drik, but always have a backdrop of some of the Dragonmarked Hosues in the land fighting. Perhaps Cannith has built a device that allows for better navigation through the Traveler's Curse, but has decided to keep it for its own business, instead of working alongside House Orien. Whatever the dispute, let's say it ends with the death of a Dragonmarked individual. Now Sakinnirot begins to stir. Maybe there are earthquakes near his resting place and someone with enough arcane studies realizes that something is amiss. This person might stumble across the two Silver Flame PCs and tell them his suspicions. Or even have one of the remaining Couatls inform the PCs.

Just to make things interesting... maybe the PCs aren't the only one who know about Sakinnirot's potential release. Maybe a Dragon overheard. Now you've got a problem. What if the Dragons think that the quickest solution to stopping the release is to wipe out the population of Stormreach as they did with the Giants in ages past? Can the PCs stop the release before the Dragons move to act? Or perhaps they can convince the Dragons that such widespread destruction will only further strengthen Sakinnirot. Just food for thought.
Call me Ender.
The most player enjoyed setting I ran in Xendrik was an aqueduct network that ran between cities of the old giant empire. I had it as wide as a two lane road with raised sidewalk paths on either side. I had it running through the jungle canopy or over it when necessary. Like a highway in the sky. It had small villages that were built upon high to house the slaves that cleaned and maintained it. I had it clogged with jungle debris and new growth and heavy rains could bring flash floods that pushed up walls of debris.  I had it occupied by jungle cats hunting, drow traps for food, and an assortment of territorial beasts and groups. It was like a dungeon outside. There were shoots that dropped down to ruins of the community's it ran to and large complexes that received its waters. I treated it as more than a watersystem. It was a thing that barges could travel with trade goods in ancient times and had plenty of cool little way stations that housed unique encounters (water wheel houses, ancient spas, tiered hanging gardens, etc).


Consider this stolen. Regardless of whether it actually becomes a part of the adventures of my party, I will at definitely include it at least in some form of descriptive text as they journey around the continent, and who knows, the party may feel intrigued enough to check it out which can spur them on to other adventures. 

To incorporate Stormreach I would give the party a device that lets them link portal back to a specific location.  I would make it the only reliable way to portal in Xendrik. I would make it "land" in Xendrik in a somewhat public location. Atop a lighthouse for example. This way its use could be risky because if they get into a fight and make a run or it witthis one of the power groups chasing them could be waiting for them there. In this they could also return to Stormreach as they needed for translations with the local expert, healing/raising,  reports on the other groups from local Flame agents, etc.
 
Wow, that's a great idea. Such a portal is a great convenience, especially since in my experience when parties are faced with the choice of traveling the opposite direction to consult an NPC or marshal helpful resources or acquire useful tools and bashing their way in 'because they have no choice' they will choose the latter. It encourages them to recognize that going back to base to obtain solutions that they'd ordinarily dismiss, but without making it open to abuse. 
City of Stormreach had some ideas for involving this Overlord. One was House Kundarak digging beneath the Tower of Kol Korran and how the further they dig, the closer they get to Sakinnirot's resting place. Another was your "guy trying to release Overlord" plot. What I'd do, if I wanted to bring Sakinnirot into play would be to have your own plotline going on in Stormreach/Xen'drik, but always have a backdrop of some of the Dragonmarked Hosues in the land fighting. Perhaps Cannith has built a device that allows for better navigation through the Traveler's Curse, but has decided to keep it for its own business, instead of working alongside House Orien. Whatever the dispute, let's say it ends with the death of a Dragonmarked individual. Now Sakinnirot begins to stir. Maybe there are earthquakes near his resting place and someone with enough arcane studies realizes that something is amiss. This person might stumble across the two Silver Flame PCs and tell them his suspicions. Or even have one of the remaining Couatls inform the PCs.

Just to make things interesting... maybe the PCs aren't the only one who know about Sakinnirot's potential release. Maybe a Dragon overheard. Now you've got a problem. What if the Dragons think that the quickest solution to stopping the release is to wipe out the population of Stormreach as they did with the Giants in ages past? Can the PCs stop the release before the Dragons move to act? Or perhaps they can convince the Dragons that such widespread destruction will only further strengthen Sakinnirot. Just food for thought.

Wow, thanks for this idea!

Ordinarily, I'd be hesitant to go with the notion of 'everytime you fight, an underground demon stirs,' since it could come across as cheesy or difficult for the players to take seriously, but the angle you presented in which, the Dragons may decide to just intervene by cleansing the continent, stresses the threat as something that has a real impact on the campaign world regardless of the player's actions. Which I like very much.

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