How Do You View The Intelligence Groups Of Eberron?

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This thread is inspired by a question Mutedfaithe asked in the Q&A thread, namely, which Intelligence Agency is the 'best' in Eberron, and since that is a rather variable term, Mutedfaithe went on to ask more specifically which intelligence group is better at what. So I'd like to ask the rest of you, what are your thoughts on the various intelligence organizations of Eberron? Who has the best assassins, the best intelligence gathering ability, the most capable field agents? Which group is employing an army of Jason Bournes, and which is using James Bond? And if agents from these various organizations meet in a dark alley, assuming equal level (so to speak), who do you think is going to walk out of that alley alive?

Groups like the Lords of Dust and the Dreaming Dark are not really counted in this, because I believe the question was more directed at a national level. While organizations like the DD and LoD are undoubtedly extremely good with intelligence work, this is more about organizations the PCs can work with. Or I think that was the original intent of Mutedfaithe's post, sorry if I misinterpreted Muted.

So, for my money, I peg the Trust as the most subtle out of them, they don't want people to know that they were involved with a situation. They use a very light touch in dealing with problems, because they don't want to be pulled into direct confrontation with others. They'd much prefer to empower others to do their work for them, and if they have to get their hands dirty, do it as impersonally as possible, using poisonings and 'accidents' to deal with antagonistic parties. In this way, I liken the Trust to the CIA in the Cold War. The don't directly confront problems, rather, they seek to destabilize enemy power groups and empower others to fight their battles for them. Also, they're keeping tabs on everyone, and probably killed the leaders of their own government. Just sayin. (Just kidding, please don't eliminate me, Hypothetically Impulsive CIA Eliminator Guy.)

The Brelish Dark Lanterns, comparatively, are more like the KGB. Extremely violent, dangerous people who just kill the crap out of people causing problems. I tend to think of the Dark Lanterns as the Jason Bournes of the Five Nations, being some of the most dangerous individual agents, and much more direct than the Trust when dealing with problems. Dark Lanterns aren't quite so interested in subtlety, so much as making sure the mission is a success. To this end they aren't manipulators, by and large, but they are very effective at countering the activities of other intelligence groups, which is part of the reason Breland holds such an edge in intelligence affairs: their agents excel at finding and killing other spies and saboteurs, leading to them having the advantage through denial of information to other parties. In my Eberron, this has led to them lacking an extensive network in outside Breland, relying on the Trust and House Phiarlan to supplement their external intelligence gathering efforts.

If the Dark Lanterns are the Jason Bournes of Eberron, then I like to think of the Royal Eyes as the James Bonds. Relying much more on social grace and manipulations, taking a page of the Trust's book, Royal Eyes agents are not quite so individually capable as Dark Lanterns, but they have a knack for convincing others to reveal more than they intend. In my Eberron, the Royal Eyes are often Bards and Rogues with high charisma, and given that its Aundair, they make more use of magical surveillance and gadgets than any other intelligence agency. Their weakness comes more from their inability to specifically act on the information they acquire, being more at home in social galas than chasing down informants through the slums and stabbing people to death. Their information gathering also tends towards understanding what other governments are up to, rather than what the more subtle power groups of the continent are planning.

Since I play Mass Effect a lot, I really like to compare the Phiarlan (and to a lesser extent, the Thuranni) to the Shadow Broker. An intelligence organization independent of of organized governments, that acts as a neutral party for acquiring information, which ultimately doesn't help any organization but itself. To elaborate, in Mass Effect, there is an individual named the Shadow Broker who runs a very effective intelligence outfit that sells information to individuals and governments. However, the Shadow Broker never gives enough information to one government that they'd have a true advantage over the other governments of the galaxy, instead forcing all of them to use the Shadow Broker's information to 'break even', so to speak. Which is how I like to run Phiarlan, they are the best intelligence gathering organization on Khorvaire, but they don't use it to topple nations, they use it to convince those nations to employ their services so they won't fall behind. So, the individual agents of Phiarlan do not really have combat expertise on the level of the Dark Lanterns or Emerald Claw, but they'll find out what you know and then sell it back to you. The Thuranni are a bit different, because while they do have their own intelligence network and act like a 'Shadow Broker' themselves, they are more often employed to counter the activities of Phiarlan agents. Thuranni find out what the Phiarlan know, and if possible eliminate whoever has that information for you. Given their bent toward assassinations, I typically have the Thuranni being more dangerous as individuals, but a bit poor at gathering information without others knowing that their information has been compromised. When the Phiarlan steal a secret, its likely you'll never know until they sell it to your enemies.

For those that don't know about them, the Shaarat'Khesh (Goblin, means Silent Blades, or Knives depending on where you're reading about it) are a Dhakaani clan of Goblin assassins and spies, that are employed by other Dhakaani clans as mercenaries, largely filling the intelligence gathering role among the Goblinoids. They are completely impartial, even fighting each other if they've been hired on different sides of a conflict, and in my Eberron they are the deadliest assassins in Khorvaire. When it comes to intelligence gathering, however, they aren't really up to the same standard as the Trust and Dark Lanterns when acting in the Five Nations. While they are probably the absolute best at stealthy infiltration, they lack an understanding of where to actually look for information. Also, in direct combat, I generally have the Shaarat'Khesh come up lacking. Their immediate instinct is to find cover and take to the shadows, striking when their opponent is unaware. So while they may not be able to kill a Dark Lantern in a sword fight, it only takes them a blink of an eye to disappear, and if you are unaware of a Shaarat'Khesh with his blade drawn, then you are seconds away from death.

There are other organizations to discuss, like the Emerald Claw and Daask, but I haven't really got any thoughts on those yet. Still, if anyone has suggestions about those groups or something like the Valenar's intelligence efforts then that'd be super cool. Also, all of that obviously comes with the caveat that its just how I like to run with them, and even if I'd suggest that the Trust avoids direct conflict, that doesn't mean I think they're all pathetic in a fight. Just usually better off staying out of it.

Otherwise, how do you portray the various intelligence agencies in your games?

Oh yeah, my money's on the Dark Lantern to win the alley fight. Or the Shaarat'Khesh, like a tiny Bruce Lee that throws knives. Either one really.
I think you summed up the situation quite nicely Areleth. Also full props for utilising the Shaarat'Khesh. But don't forget the taarka'khesh while you're at it. The shaarat (Dhakaani for Blade btw) are the knives of the Dhakaani, the taarka are the eyes and ears. They're impartial scouts and observers. They are more adept at unseen reconnaissance than active infiltration and impersonation like the Shaarat'Khesh. They are however very adept at collating data through their own network of spies. You know that golbin beggar on the side of every street, wooden cup help up in supplication for a spare copper or two, yeah he's exactly not what he appears to be. Don't expect the taarka'khesh to slip a knife in between your ribs, but when your enemies seem to know your movements almost as quickly as you take them, that's when you know that you're being followed by the silent wolves.

What was not touched on was the intelligence networks of Karrnath. I use the plural because they are exactly that, an overlapping series of small spy circles, each controlled by one of the warlords of Karrnath. They have their own specific (and often conflicting) goals, each trained by the individual spymasters of each warlord and each dancing to their own tune. Unlike the (hopefully) unified forces of the Dark Lanterns or Eyes of Aundair, each circle is as well trained, equipped and prepared as that warlord cares to make them. So some of them (I'm looking at you King Kaius) are quite well organised, capable and mobile. Others are merely a circle of snitches within the private lands of that Warlord, informants whom keep him appraised of the goings and doings of the local populace.

This might seem like an inconvenience, but it is in fact an asset in some regards. These small cirlces have no particualr modus operandi, they march to the beat of their own drum and needs. Rooting out one spy won't mean that you'll have information on the six others still operating within the castle. It also means designing any counter-intelligence initatives as difficult and painful. Think of the intelligence networks of Karrnath as more like small splinter-cells, each operating under their own auspices and radically different from one-another. Cataloguing and tracking them is hard, predicting their movements are worst and negating all of them next to impossible. They are fractured and as such communications sharing and efficiency are not their strong suite, but it also makes keeping your fingers on them rather annoying.

Speaking of Splitner Cells let's jump to another Karrnathi group, now persona-non-grata, everyone's favourite Emerald Claw. If you're looking for a much more dangerous and motivated spy agency, fresh out of Karrnath, the Last War and now itching to have a little fun, look no further. The Emerald Claw were famed for their unconventional (by Karrnathi standards) tactics, strategy and operating procedures. They were everything the Rekkenmark dogmatic Karrnathi were not, subtle, sneaky, willing to utilise information and guerilla tactic rather than sheer weight of numbers and military might. They were the precise knife in the dark, the shadowy weave of magic and deadly force. The Emerald Claw are fanatics of the highest order, well trained, well equipped (at least before Kaius tried to snuff them out) and well placed. They operated on a level that put them on par with Brelish or Aundarian operatives. The Emerald Claw were the spies for Karrnath during the last war, the assassins willing to do things and go places (figurative and literal) that Karrnath would not, could not, ethically or honourably.

And now they've been cut loose. Free Agents to cause as much or as little mischief as possible. Armed to the teeth with all sorts of juicy info on the other nations and no silly Thronehold Accords to keep them in check. Third Echelon would shudder at the knowledge of these guys.

Lastly I'll touch on House Medani, whom as always linger in the shadows, not so much forgotten as wearing a Tardis Key about their necks. They are not (typically) assassins or direct action operatives, with even less of a touch on events that the Trust (and that's saying something). They are however the ultimate counter-agents, the best inquisitives that money can (and often does) buy. They see things, see things that others do not. Patterns in events that would seem nonsensical to even a Malkavian. They collect and collate data, watch and warn others, protect those whom cannot see the danger coming. Very much the silent partner of all intelligence gathering, they instead remain apart from it, warning others and protecting their primary (person whom has hired them to keep their body, mind and soul intact). Medani watch and gather.

If Baron Trelib has any overarching goals for his information gathering, Sovereigns only know and the Shadow certainly isn't divulging.

Hmm I'll muse on this and post some more up later.
While comparisons between Phiarlan and the Shadow Brooker make sense to me in regards to what they do with the information, in my mind the working methods and ultimate goals differ a lot. Phiarlann is a family operation whose members have a talent with shadows and an ingrained sense of history and lore. They decend from the Aeranal clans/families whose purpose was preserving the stories of the ancestors. I distinctly remember reading that they still place great value on performing those ancient elf ritual performances and that being named a keeper of one is one of the greatest honors within the house. Keith also hinted that they don't keep the balance to make more money. They do so because they see it as their duty to preserve that balance, or maybe they even still operate for Aeranal's prophecy. They sell information with an overarching goal that goes beyond mere profit. In this regards, the likely operate much more like other organized based on (religious) ideals. It is just that those ideals are lot less violent and brutal and a lot more subtle than say the Templars of the Silver Flame or the agents of the Emerald Claw. It is also possible that the whole split of the house was actually planned and that the hostilities between the two is just an act.
 
As for individual agents, I see them as excellent thieves, cat burglars, saborteurs and performers, likely some of the best of Khorvaire. The active branch is goal orientated: steal x, spy on that meeting between Y and Z, break the axis of that wagon so that the cargo does not arrive on time and so on. They are not good at long term infiltration, sleeping agents, spreading misinformation and the like. Of course, most of the House belongs to the reactive branch. They are the performers who send whatever they accidentally overhear/see while working on stage to the leaders of the house and which intel is used by the active branche.
Given their bent toward assassinations, I typically have the Thuranni being more dangerous as individuals, but a bit poor at gathering information without others knowing that their information has been compromised. When the Phiarlan steal a secret, its likely you'll never know until they sell it to your enemies. 


A point I'll make here is that until 30 years ago, the families of the Thuranni house WERE the assassins of House Phiarlan - while meanwhile the remaining Phiarlan houses include the core of the intelligence gathering apparatus, such as network of Serpentine Mirrors; Phiarlan is also the larger house in terms of numbers. So yes, I certainly feel that Thuranni is better at assassination, but Phiarlan is better with intelligence.

They decend from the Aeranal clans/families whose purpose was preserving the stories of the ancestors. I distinctly remember reading that they still place great value on performing those ancient elf ritual performances and that being named a keeper of one is one of the greatest honors within the house.


This is from the dragonshards and I believe repeated in Dragonmarked. Essentially, the Phiarlans began as bards in the full sense of the word - both providing entertainment but also preserving history and sharing news. That role of providing information grew broader and deeper, and was transformed somewhat when they manifested the Mark of Shadows. But the Mark only goes back a few thousand years; their role as bards goes back to Xen'drik. As Madfox says, it's also the case that they recognized that information could be used to affect the world, and they've continued to do that. But the key point is that for Phiarlan (and Thuranni, who after all WERE Phiarlan until 30 years ago), entertainment isn't simply a cover; it is as much a part of house and history as spying, and it's the face the common people of the world are familiar with.
Thanks for posting this, Areleth. I was going to get around to it, but you did a better job anyway.

When I imagine the different intelligence agencies,  I try to remember that a little over a hundred years ago, they were all one. There were no Eyes of Aundair, there was only the King's Dark Lanterns. They were all Citadel trained and worked together. When the Last War broke out, the Lanterns splintered, went to their respective nations, and started their individual branches. With that in mind, I try to think of how each nation would deal with this fracturing and adapt their tactics.

The Brelish Dark Lanterns lost a lot of their arcane and divine spellcasters. Between that and the cosmopolitan feel of Breland, I see them doing a lot recruiting and having the most agents. They also have the original Citadel facilities already up and running to train new recruits, where the other nations had to start from scratch. You're more likely to run into a small squad of them where the other nations run individuals. I also see them as being ready to stab first and ask questions later since giving the Eye of Aundair time to cast is never a good idea.

The Eyes of Aundair have a lot of magic to bring to bear, but wizards take time to train, then you have to give them intelligence training, so I see a small but elite force. All that schooling also leads to a more refined, James Bond style spy, who is more comfortable moving around the upper crust then rubbing elbows with the common folk.

And Thrane? As the Hellcow has said, they have a religious branch and a national branch, so I see a lot of in-fighting over jurisdiction, like the CIA and NSA. I also see them as the ones least likely to commit assassinations or any truly  overt actions, mainly manuevering the situation to let local law enforcement handle it. Unless its a supernatural evil or corrupt law enforcement, then they step in.

Karrnath has the worst of the bunch, in my opinion. When Kaius declared the Emerald Claw traitors, he lost a large portion of his intelligence capabilities. With Karrnath's strong military tradition, though, I see them as having more agent's placed in high positions in the other nation's armed forces then normal. 

I'll post more on my ideas for Daassk, the Trust, and Phiarlan later.
Love this thread! Such a wealth of ideas and inspiration here!
I think we've got the national stuff mostly covered (could look at Droam and their intelligence/thug arm Daask but I'll save that for another day). Probably something fun to tackle are the Intelligence groups that don't hold any particular national allegiance. The Dragonmarked Houses have gotten some love, but personally I just love the Cabinet of Faces. There is something about an international conspiracy of Doppelgangers whom believe they are acting out the will of the Traveller that tickles me pink. And they wield their power through gathering information on and by extension influencing government policy. Again like the Emerald Claw they have a cell-like structure, with each agent generally only aware of their immediate superior (or Visage). Generally the Cabinet isn't interesting in much-racking or getting their hands bloody. Much easier to find something scandalous on their target and pressure them into compliance rather than relying on crude violence. And if worse comes to worse there is nothing like good old poison, blending into the common staff of any facility and laying the trap well in advance. The Cabinet are not the arcane might of the Eyes of Aundair, the well trained an equipped Dark Lanterns. But they are the best deep-cover spies you will never come across, so sublte is their passage.
And Thrane? As the Hellcow has said, they have a religious branch and a national branch, so I see a lot of in-fighting over jurisdiction, like the CIA and NSA.


Just as a side note, this is an issue that can apply to any country. Remember that the faith of the Silver Flame is present in all nations. While the Church may now have jurisdiction over Thrane, that doesn't mean that your adherence to the faith requires you to be loyal to Thrane; it simply requires you to protect the innocent from supernatural threats when they present themselves. Hence Brelish and Thrane followers of the Flame could fight each other on the battlefield, but would in theory stop and join forces if a threat from Shavarath spilled through onto the field.

With that in mind, it should be noted that many members of the secular organizations ARE followers of the Flame. The difference between a templar and a Flame-loyal Knight of Thrane is that the templar receives more focused training in supernatural dangers and is more likely to be deployed to areas consider high supernatural risks - but the knight is still expected to support the templar in fighting the demon if it appears.

So I certainly see the secular orders feeling that the church orders are overreaching when they interfere in secular affairs - especially if you have an elf or dwarf old enough to remember the time before the church came to power - but nonetheless, most Thranes respect the purpose of the church when that purpose presents itself. Again, without Tira's sacrifice, Thrane (and Galifar) wouldn't exist today.

(Of course, note that this is what a follower of the Flame is SUPPOSED to do - it doesn't mean they'll all live up to it when a demon actually appears. Likewise, people aren't expected to throw their lives away foolishly; if a demon appears next to one city guard, the best way he can help people is to run and alert the tempplars, not throw his life away attacking it.)
I think Cyre brings some interesting things to the table. Prior to the Mourning Cyre had to have had  intelligence networks in place all across Khorvaire with assets, field agents, safe houses, and the like. After the Mourning, all those things were still there, just now they had no oversight, no control, and no orders. Just a bunch of Cyre operatives out in the cold. I'm trying how best to use these guys:

The Cyre intelligence network joined a third party. How much would the Dreaming Dark love to acquire an already in place spy network?  No mind seeding, no having to build up in places they previously hadn't been in before, everything is already there. The Lords of Dust or The Daughters of Sora Kell would also appreciate them. Heck, the Darguul would love operatives who weren't goblins. But after being at war for a hundred years, I can't see them joining the Dark Lanterns or any of the other original five nations, which makes the Dreaming Dark even better. "Look at how peaceful Sarlona is, you can help us make Khorvaire just as peaceful." A bunch of displaced veterans trying to make the world a better place and instead making it darker.

The Cyre intelligence network goes out on its own. They could use their skills to try and find out the the cause of the Mourning, get revenge for Cyre, or just try to become rich. And they have no constraints anymore. Where a Dark Lantern has to act in the best interests of Breland and not drag them into a war, a Cyran operative has no such perogative. They are working only for their own self-interest. Getting two nations to go to war might even be there main goal, or be seen as a beneficial side effect. They could even do it for the lulz, depending on how bitter and angry they are.

Ideas on what a Cyre black ops agency would be called? I'm horrible with names.
Ideas on what a Cyre black ops agency would be called? I'm horrible with names.


The Fading Dream involves a Cyran black ops unit known as the Fifth Crown. But I don't believe it's been mentioned elsewhere, and novels aren't canon.

Prior to the Mourning Cyre had to have had  intelligence networks in place all across Khorvaire with assets, field agents, safe houses, and the like.


Why? The King's Citadel was royal intelligence, and had those assets, field agents, safe houses and the like spread across the kingdom - do you see a particular reason for Cyre to have an entirely separate network? As Areleth nothed, the King's Citadel broke into national organizations, and Cyre inherited its agency from those - but do you see a reason for a Cyran order that is entirely disconnected from the Citadel, which is after all the King's Citadel?


As I understand it there was around a hundred years of conflict between when the King's Citadel being broken up into national organizations and the Mourning destroying Cyre. That's a hundred years to recruit and deploy spies, recruit assets, build safehouses, etc. Am I wrong? Please don't tell me I'm wrong.
As I understand it there was around a hundred years of conflict between when the King's Citadel being broken up into national organizations and the Mourning destroying Cyre...


Whoops, this is what happens when I skim. You are correct - I read your statement as "prior to the war", not "prior to the Mourning".

One observation about Cyre. IMO, most of the nations have a strong national character which, among other reasons, was the reason the national institutions were based where they were. Karrnath always had the most martial culture, likely drawing from roots in Nulakesh in pre-sundering Sarlona. Aundair always had the greatest interest in magic. Galifar didn't simply decide to drop the arcane congress in Aundair to even things out; he did it because it's where the most advanced colleges of magic already were.

So this means that while you had people from all nations in all of these major institutions, the people of the nation tended to dominate that branch of study. Among other things meaning that Karrnath had more people in Rekkenmark than in the Citadel - and that by and large, it's intelligence agencies aren't great because subterfuge isn't a particularly strong part of its natural character.

To get to the roundabout point: While it had many unique customs, one of the things about Cyre and Thronehold is that as the center of the kingdom, it was also the most cosmopolitan. People of all agencies are always attending the court. Now, the Lord of the Citadel might, at the end of the day, be Brelish - but other Brelish Citadel agents who end up assigned to Cyre might settle there, start families with Cyrans, etc on a wider scale than other nations. So I see Cyre as having a little more of the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none aspect to it's national strengths. Setting aside its wealth, culture, and of course, will to endure whatever misfortunes the Sovereigns send their way.
Oh thank the Sovereigns you agreed with me. It was like saying "E=MC2" then having Einstein walk in say "Nope, your wrong." For a second nothing makes sense, then you drink tequila until everything does again.

Cyre has always been one of my favorite backstory locations, but it seems to have been kind of short changed in the write-ups. Any hopes for a more in depth look in an Eye on Eberron article? Well, actually, I think everything has been short changed because I can never get enough.
I think you summed up the situation quite nicely Areleth. Also full props for utilising the Shaarat'Khesh. But don't forget the taarka'khesh while you're at it. The shaarat (Dhakaani for Blade btw) are the knives of the Dhakaani, the taarka are the eyes and ears. They're impartial scouts and observers. They are more adept at unseen reconnaissance than active infiltration and impersonation like the Shaarat'Khesh. They are however very adept at collating data through their own network of spies. You know that golbin beggar on the side of every street, wooden cup help up in supplication for a spare copper or two, yeah he's exactly not what he appears to be. Don't expect the taarka'khesh to slip a knife in between your ribs, but when your enemies seem to know your movements almost as quickly as you take them, that's when you know that you're being followed by the silent wolves.


I think you may be conflating the Shaarat'Khesh and the Taarka'Khesh. To my understanding, the Taarka'Khesh are battlefield scouts. Like tiny Rambos that ride wolves, they provide excellent recon and tactical information to the Goblinoids, but they are not a domestic source of information. If you want to know what the leaders of of your opposing faction are having for breakfast, you send the Silent Knives. If you want to know the tactial disposition of your enemy, you send the Silent Wolves.

It is important to note that in 3.5 the Taarka'Khesh were Rangers and Scouts. They're at home in the wilderness, tracking movement and gauging the intention of armed formations. The Shaarat'Khesh are the spies and assassins, so they are the ones I mentioned. They are the ones the Goblinoids would turn to for covert action against the Five Nations, so they are effectively the Goblinoid player in this espionage game.

Its certainly true that they would make good use of the ubiquity of Goblin commoners in the cities of the Five Nations to their advantage, but I don't think they have the cultural understanding to really pierce the intelligence networks of the Five Nations. They are trained for inter-Goblinoid conflict, which makes it difficult for them to grasp who in the Five Nations would have the information important to their current task, and what information is important to begin with. Essentially, they're starting off on a blank slate, trying to build an information network and get a sense for how the various intelligence organizations interact with each other. Just because they can steal an important document doesn't mean they know what to do with it. Yet. Once they can get their bearings they'll be a very important player, but as it stands they aren't a major consideration for anything outside Goblinoid matters in my Eberron.

What was not touched on was the intelligence networks of Karrnath. I use the plural because they are exactly that, an overlapping series of small spy circles, each controlled by one of the warlords of Karrnath. They have their own specific (and often conflicting) goals, each trained by the individual spymasters of each warlord and each dancing to their own tune. Unlike the (hopefully) unified forces of the Dark Lanterns or Eyes of Aundair, each circle is as well trained, equipped and prepared as that warlord cares to make them. So some of them (I'm looking at you King Kaius) are quite well organised, capable and mobile. Others are merely a circle of snitches within the private lands of that Warlord, informants whom keep him appraised of the goings and doings of the local populace.

This might seem like an inconvenience, but it is in fact an asset in some regards. These small cirlces have no particualr modus operandi, they march to the beat of their own drum and needs. Rooting out one spy won't mean that you'll have information on the six others still operating within the castle. It also means designing any counter-intelligence initatives as difficult and painful. Think of the intelligence networks of Karrnath as more like small splinter-cells, each operating under their own auspices and radically different from one-another. Cataloguing and tracking them is hard, predicting their movements are worst and negating all of them next to impossible. They are fractured and as such communications sharing and efficiency are not their strong suite, but it also makes keeping your fingers on them rather annoying.

That's a good point, though I imagine that means that the Karrns have a rather small net to cast when they're looking to get information of others. I assume Kaius has his own specialized agents, but its likely difficult for him to know when and where to deploy them.

Speaking of Splitner Cells let's jump to another Karrnathi group, now persona-non-grata, everyone's favourite Emerald Claw. If you're looking for a much more dangerous and motivated spy agency, fresh out of Karrnath, the Last War and now itching to have a little fun, look no further. The Emerald Claw were famed for their unconventional (by Karrnathi standards) tactics, strategy and operating procedures. They were everything the Rekkenmark dogmatic Karrnathi were not, subtle, sneaky, willing to utilise information and guerilla tactic rather than sheer weight of numbers and military might. They were the precise knife in the dark, the shadowy weave of magic and deadly force. The Emerald Claw are fanatics of the highest order, well trained, well equipped (at least before Kaius tried to snuff them out) and well placed. They operated on a level that put them on par with Brelish or Aundarian operatives. The Emerald Claw were the spies for Karrnath during the last war, the assassins willing to do things and go places (figurative and literal) that Karrnath would not, could not, ethically or honourably.

And now they've been cut loose. Free Agents to cause as much or as little mischief as possible. Armed to the teeth with all sorts of juicy info on the other nations and no silly Thronehold Accords to keep them in check. Third Echelon would shudder at the knowledge of these guys.

I think the Emerald Claw is probably the most dangerous in the short-term, not counting Vol's goals, because they don't really have any need to insure the survival of their nation anymore. Even the Karrnathi patriots who join aren't bound by strict operating procedures that keep Karrnath from being linked to their subversive activities, so the Claw can be as bold and destructive as they want, since no one really has a target to aim at when it comes to dealing with the Claw.

Lastly I'll touch on House Medani, whom as always linger in the shadows, not so much forgotten as wearing a Tardis Key about their necks. They are not (typically) assassins or direct action operatives, with even less of a touch on events that the Trust (and that's saying something). They are however the ultimate counter-agents, the best inquisitives that money can (and often does) buy. They see things, see things that others do not. Patterns in events that would seem nonsensical to even a Malkavian. They collect and collate data, watch and warn others, protect those whom cannot see the danger coming. Very much the silent partner of all intelligence gathering, they instead remain apart from it, warning others and protecting their primary (person whom has hired them to keep their body, mind and soul intact). Medani watch and gather.

If Baron Trelib has any overarching goals for his information gathering, Sovereigns only know and the Shadow certainly isn't divulging.

Actually, the Medani talent for counter-spying is why I think the Dark Lanterns are so good at it. For one, Breland has the King's Citadel. While the other nations had their own Citadel agents at the start of the war, Breland had the best facilities and resources for espionage already at their fingertips. More importantly, however, they had detailed information on every other Citadel agent ever trained . They knew the identities of every agent that had defected to their home nation, they knew where every safehouse was and they knew exactly what training enemy agents had and how those agents operated. The intelligence groups built off those former agents were built on tactics the Brelish had already devised counters for, and it took the other nations a long time to really break away from the old Citadel traditions and really get their footing. This is combined with the Medani's own long career of counter-intelligence, and the close relationship between Trelib and Boranel, producing the best counter-spies on the continent.

I think the Medani and Dark Lanterns both had something of a focused evolution together, by sharing (at some level) information and training techniques, that led to them being so capable at dealing with other information gathering organizations. Breland took an early lead with counter-intelligence, and then concentrated their efforts toward maintaining that lead.

When I imagine the different intelligence agencies,  I try to remember that a little over a hundred years ago, they were all one. There were no Eyes of Aundair, there was only the King's Dark Lanterns. They were all Citadel trained and worked together. When the Last War broke out, the Lanterns splintered, went to their respective nations, and started their individual branches. With that in mind, I try to think of how each nation would deal with this fracturing and adapt their tactics.

Working off this, keep in mind that Breland had records on every agent who left to serve another nation. If we think of this intelligence war as a game, then consider that Breland started off seeing much more of the board than anyone else. They knew where all the pieces were, they knew how things connected, and they knew (approximately) just how much the other players knew. They may have had their own Citadel agents, but the other nations were starting off at a significant disadvantage. A disadvantage that Breland would be keen to maintain.

The Brelish Dark Lanterns lost a lot of their arcane and divine spellcasters. Between that and the cosmopolitan feel of Breland, I see them doing a lot recruiting and having the most agents. They also have the original Citadel facilities already up and running to train new recruits, where the other nations had to start from scratch. You're more likely to run into a small squad of them where the other nations run individuals. I also see them as being ready to stab first and ask questions later since giving the Eye of Aundair time to cast is never a good idea.

That's a good point, and I think that coupled with the inclination of the Brelish military to encourage individual initiative, I would say that the Brelish train there Dark Lanterns to be very self-reliant. A Dark Lantern is thrust into a situation and told to solve it, with whatever tools are available. Considering that Breland is a very industrious nation, the Dark Lanterns are very likely well equipped, but considering the impressive tools their enemies have that the Brelish just can't match, I think there is a high focus on being able to improvise a solution to any situation you encounter, along with a maxim of survival. Because a dead Lantern is of no use to the Crown.

The Eyes of Aundair have a lot of magic to bring to bear, but wizards take time to train, then you have to give them intelligence training, so I see a small but elite force. All that schooling also leads to a more refined, James Bond style spy, who is more comfortable moving around the upper crust then rubbing elbows with the common folk.

That's a good point, the Royal Eyes are very likely the best cultured and educated, and using magic to compensate for fewer numbers is a hallmark of Aundairian tactical doctrine. Especially with its use in scrying, I imagine that the Royal Eyes try to be very 'hands off' in their work. You can't risk your Wizards in a front-line scuffle, and a well trained field agent is too valuable a tool to send into the sewers under Sharn chasing after some Dark Lantern. Usually.

And Thrane? As the Hellcow has said, they have a religious branch and a national branch, so I see a lot of in-fighting over jurisdiction, like the CIA and NSA. I also see them as the ones least likely to commit assassinations or any truly  overt actions, mainly manuevering the situation to let local law enforcement handle it. Unless its a supernatural evil or corrupt law enforcement, then they step in.

Karrnath has the worst of the bunch, in my opinion. When Kaius declared the Emerald Claw traitors, he lost a large portion of his intelligence capabilities. With Karrnath's strong military tradition, though, I see them as having more agent's placed in high positions in the other nation's armed forces then normal.

I don't think either of these nations has an intelligence organization that isn't outclassed in most aspects by a foreign power. Not much to speak of outside the Emerald Claw really. The Argentum seems more specialized in acquiring magical items to make up for Thrane's lack of arcane ability.

I think Cyre brings some interesting things to the table. Prior to the Mourning Cyre had to have had  intelligence networks in place all across Khorvaire with assets, field agents, safe houses, and the like. After the Mourning, all those things were still there, just now they had no oversight, no control, and no orders. Just a bunch of Cyre operatives out in the cold. I'm trying how best to use these guys:

The Cyre intelligence network joined a third party. How much would the Dreaming Dark love to acquire an already in place spy network?  No mind seeding, no having to build up in places they previously hadn't been in before, everything is already there. The Lords of Dust or The Daughters of Sora Kell would also appreciate them. Heck, the Darguul would love operatives who weren't goblins. But after being at war for a hundred years, I can't see them joining the Dark Lanterns or any of the other original five nations, which makes the Dreaming Dark even better. "Look at how peaceful Sarlona is, you can help us make Khorvaire just as peaceful." A bunch of displaced veterans trying to make the world a better place and instead making it darker.

The Cyre intelligence network goes out on its own. They could use their skills to try and find out the the cause of the Mourning, get revenge for Cyre, or just try to become rich. And they have no constraints anymore. Where a Dark Lantern has to act in the best interests of Breland and not drag them into a war, a Cyran operative has no such perogative. They are working only for their own self-interest. Getting two nations to go to war might even be there main goal, or be seen as a beneficial side effect. They could even do it for the lulz, depending on how bitter and angry they are.

Ideas on what a Cyre black ops agency would be called? I'm horrible with names.

That's an utterly delicious point. In my mind, Cyre was second only to Breland in intelligence work, largely due to their position as the administrative center of Galifar. While they don't have access to the Citadel archives that gave Breland such a huge leg up in espionage, they do have access to critical national secrets of every nation that passed through the administrations of Galifar. Noted arcane projects in Aundair, civil unrest in Karrnath, even major Citadel operations. Where Breland took an early lead by crippling everyone else's intelligence efforts, Cyre started off with tons of national secrets to exploit. As the war went on and their information became dated, Cyre still kept up by fielding extremely well equipped agents. Relying on a smaller number of agents, but that number being very well trained and equipped (with Cyre's huge reserve wealth fitting the bill). Still, I don't think Cyre used its intelligence arm to subvert other nations, but rather to simply gather as much information as possible. Trying to duplicate arcane projects in Aundair and learning Karrnathi battle-plans, getting as much out of their agents as possible without risking them unduly in the field, because much like Aundair's Wizards, Cyre's agents are difficult to replace and carry very expensive equipment.

This leads into their current limbo, with Cyran intelligence having information that many nations would gladly kill for, and consequently having to dodge essentially every other intelligence organization on the continent. Its an even bigger problem when, as you said, we account for the fact that the Cyran intelligence agents have no home to have loyalty to, and no love at all for the other four nations. A group of extremely well trained and well equipped people with nothing left to lose and secrets that could reignite the Last War.

Oh yeah, that's going to work out swell.
  While the other nations had their own Citadel agents at the start of the war, Breland had the best facilities and resources for espionage already at their fingertips. More importantly, however, they had detailed information on every other Citadel agent ever trained . They knew the identities of every agent that had defected to their home nation, they knew where every safehouse was and they knew exactly what training enemy agents had and how those agents operated. The intelligence groups built off those former agents were built on tactics the Brelish had already devised counters for, and it took the other nations a long time to really break away from the old Citadel traditions and really get their footing. This is combined with the Medani's own long career of counter-intelligence, and the close relationship between Trelib and Boranel, producing the best counter-spies on the continent.


Agreed. Again, other nations had loyalists from the Citadel, but Breland had the Citadel itself, including the resources and the cultural pride in the institution. Karrnath and Thrane had the fewest people in the Citadel to begin with (it not appealing to the character of the typical citizen), and a harder time building a program around them for that same reason.

With that said, an important point to remember is that you didn't have a perfect split down national lines. Some people from all nations surely chose to stand with Mishann as the rightful queen, again given Cyre a small but cosmopolitan base to work with. Some devotees of the Flame likely defected to Thrane - and you'd have another round of this when the church assumed power. Meanwhile you have foreigners who stay with the nation - the Cyran who says "No, I think Wroaan has the best claim" or perhaps simply saying that loyalty to the Citadel comes before the games of kings and queens. At that point, as the higher up, you have to ask if you can trust such a person - though that's what Eyes of Aureon are for.

I don't think either of these nations has an intelligence organization that isn't outclassed in most aspects by a foreign power.


I am inclined to agree. With that said...

The Argentum seems more specialized in acquiring magical items to make up for Thrane's lack of arcane ability.


The Argentum is a small and specialized agency, not really comparable to the Royal Eyes or the Citadel. Thrane has a number of small organizations with specialized functions, one of which may be discussed later in the year in EoE (just saying). Within these specialties, they have the advantage of being able to employ divine power and rituals which give them a different set of tools to work with. But nonetheless, these are much smaller groups than the other nations, and they simply don't have the scope of something like the Citadel.

Of course, Thrane does have the greatest access to Augury and Commune, when it comes to gathering intelligence...

A group of extremely well trained and well equipped people with nothing left to lose...


Which is essentially how the Fifth Crown is depicted in The Fading Dream.
I've never really counted the Emerald Claw as that much of a inteligence agency.  In the post Mourning era since Kiaus disbanded them I see them as more of a Al Quida terrorist organization, so while they probably do have a few cells working as an info network, the majority are just a bunch of guys that are going to kick in the door and ruin your day.  Guys that are working independantly of each other and don't know what the other cells are doing, while being under the leadership of a shadowy figure that no one has seen or heard from forever (well, before Bin Ladin was killed, I've been out of the loop since before that happened)

Durring the Last War I tend to view them as a 75th Ranger Regiment analoge for Karrnath, in that they were elite soldiers, with a very selective recuiting process, and a very high per-capita training and equipment budget (and additional access to divine magic).  Not so many that they could solve every battlefield problem (that's the regular army's job), and not so few that they are constantly out numbered because you only sent in a few specialists (that's Special Forces/PC parties' job)

Then again I may just have an odd point of view from having been both in the infantry and in military inteligence.
The Emerald Claw is absolutely a terrorist organization now, but during the Last War they did provide intelligence services to the crown. You're probably right in how they were actually used by Karrnath, but it doesn't change the fact that they provided important intel to Kaius.

The intel they provided probably wasn't specifically from their own ranks though. It most likely had something to do with the ancient evil and very magical lich that controls them, and her many powerful minions.

But I guess Vol probably doesn't use them for intelligence purposes. Just a useful army to blow things up and stab pesky adventurers.
Venturing onto other intelligence agencies, next we have Valenar and House Phiarlan. Valenar and House Phiarlan together because I don't think Valenar has any intelligence gathering capabilities whatsoever. House Phiarlan has been doing the whole intelligence gathering thing  for the elves since the war with the giants, and since the Tairndal take most of their cues from that time period, I don't think much has changed. If the Valenar want to know anything, they hire the House of Shadows. 

I think Phiarlan has the most extensive intelligence gathering capabilities on Khorvaire, but I think that's also there problem. Most of their members aren't spies, they're performers. These performers still gather intel for the house, sending things they hear and see up the chain, but since they're not spies, they don't really know what's good intel and whats bad. That leads to a lot of information being sent to the Serpentine Table that has to be sifted and sorted through, connected to larger pictures, or discarded as unnecessary. Its to much, and a lot of the time they don't know what to with it. When they have a specific target, such as a person, they have key words they can use to cut through the clutter, but most of the time they're looking for a needle in a pile of needles. Also, with the loss of a lot of their best direct action operatives to House Thuranni, Phiarlan is having trouble acting on the actionable intel they do get. So if you are going after a target they're protecting or looking after, start a whisper campaign against your target, and your plans will get lost in the noise. 
 I think Phiarlan has the most extensive intelligence gathering capabilities on Khorvaire, but I think that's also there problem.  Most of their members aren't spies, they're performers. These performers still gather intel for the house, sending things they hear and see up the chain, but since they're not spies, they don't really know what's good intel and whats bad.  That leads to a lot of information being sent to the Serpentine Table that has to be sifted and sorted through, connected to larger pictures, or discarded as unnecessary. Its to much, and a lot of the time they don't know what to with it. When they have a specific target, such as a person, they have key words they can use to cut through the clutter, but most of the time they're looking for a needle in a pile of needles. Also, with the loss of a lot of their best direct action operatives to House Thuranni, Phiarlan is having trouble acting on the actionable intel they do get. So if you are going after a target they're protecting or looking after, start a whisper campaign against your target, and your plans will get lost in the noise. 



You're giving spies too much credit.  Intel sources report everything, if they don't know what's good and what's useless: report it all and let the analists sort it out. sifting thru intel seems to me like working in a diamond mine.  you have to sift thru several tons of rock to find just a handfull of industrial grade diamonds, of wich you only have half a carot of gemstone quality diamond (assuming you are in a rich diamond mine).  

The best real life example of House Phairlan i can think of is when my unit was in cahoots with a brothel in Iraq.  The girls there were by no means spies, but would tell us all kinds of stuff that we would have now idea about (names, places, dates).  They didn't want terrorists in their city, and didn't have the muscle (3-4 bouncers with AKs) to get rid of them, so they simply called us.  I imagine the same would be true for Phairlan, they don't HAVE to act on the intel they collect.  They can just tell your enemies what you are doing where and when, and sit back counting the reward money while someone else does the heavy lifting.

never underestimate the entertainer 
I've never really counted the Emerald Claw as that much of a inteligence agency... During the Last War I tend to view them as a 75th Ranger Regiment analoge for Karrnath, in that they were elite soldiers, with a very selective recuiting process, and a very high per-capita training and equipment budget (and additional access to divine magic).


This is certainly my view. An elite force capable of handling a diverse range of situations and employing unconventional tactics - and possibly acquiring intelligence in the process - but fundimentally soldiers, not spies. While they might be better at acquiring information than a typical army unit, their main job was eliminating targets. I can certainly see a Seeker order that specifically gathered intelligence through use of speak with dead, ghosts, and other forms of applied necromancy, but I never considered that a wartime role of the Emerald Claw; I definitely saw them as a battlefield unit. Where's the spy angle come from - Forge of War?

The present day is a different thing, but that's because the name is really the primary legacy. There's far more people in the modern EC than there ever were in the chivalric order; the command structure is entirely different; the level of skill is generally lower. It's mainly about brand recognition.

But again, no reason you can't go another way. I'd just never have identified the EC as an intelligence agency in the same paragraph as Phiarlan, the Lanterns, and the Royal Eyes. 
Where's the spy angle come from - Forge of War?

I sleep with a copy of the 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting under my pillow, so a quick look that the small entry for the order mentions that the Emerald Claw has agents placed throughout Khorvaire, and that it has eyes and ears within governments, churches, and dragonmarked houses. There's also a mention of them in the old Player's Guide, noting that it is believed that many acts of espionage and sabotage committed against other nations was the work of the Order. I recognize that they are mostly a presence on the battlefield, but I was under the impression that they helped to supplement Karrnath's intelligence efforts. Given how instrumental Vol was in keeping Karrnath from collapsing and all.

Its not a lot, but there isn't really all that much information on the Order to work with in the first place, so I guess we just read into things a bit too much.

But again, no reason you can't go another way. I'd just never have identified the EC as an intelligence agency in the same paragraph as Phiarlan, the Lanterns, and the Royal Eyes. 

I like using them as antagonists in espionage themed games, so they have to have their own array of secrets and agents and what not to keep ahead of the PCs. If the bad guys aren't revealing their own world-shaking secrets then it just doesn't feel right.
Where's the spy angle come from - Forge of War?

I sleep with a copy of the 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting under my pillow, so a quick look that the small entry for the order mentions that the Emerald Claw has agents placed throughout Khorvaire...


Oh, it certainly does NOW. It's just that I see the modern order as being very different from the wartime orders like the Onyx Skull and such. Essentially, during the war it was an entirely legitimate elite military unit - one that was so successful it was getting too much recognition and influence for the seekers. Since the war it is disavowed terrorist organization that is openly controlled by someone who the world at large would consider a supervillain (bear in mind that they don't know her true identity, but they know they work for "The Queen of Death").

For me, the Emerald Claw is a lot like COBRA. They are the people who you KNOW are up to know good. And like COBRA, they are an organization with covert agents and shock troopers, with spies and soldiers. They've got spectres and wraiths, changelings pretending to be vampires, vampire assassins, and who knows what else. But again, that's a whole different thing from the elite unit that served in the war.

Now, what about BEFORE the war? Erandis hasn't been hanging out with no agents, right? Certainly true - she already had that network of priests, wizards, vampires and such built up over centuries. They just didn't have a fancy name and weren't acting so boldly. As I see it, the modern Emerald Claw is essentially Erandis taking the name and remnants of the chivalric order - which did serve with distinction during the war - and using it as a figurehead for her previously existing stealth forces, simultaneously using that name it earned during the war as a way to draw in Karrnathi patriots to use as cannon fodder in her schemes.

In any case, I think we agree as to what it's like TODAY. I just didn't see the organization called "The Order of the Emerald Claw" as being like that during the war itself. And certainly at that time, they weren't openly serving the Queen of Death; she came to them after they had been unjustly condemned by the false king.

BUT AGAIN... that's MY Eberron!
Ah, well that makes sense. I assumed that Vol had been using the Claw as a direct instrument from the start. If she only started stuffing it with her personal agents after Kaius broke ties with her then I can see why it didn't have much to do with intelligence during the greater part of its involvement with the war.
 Since the war it is disavowed terrorist organization that is openly controlled by someone who the world at large would consider a supervillain (bear in mind that they don't know her true identity, but they know they work for "The Queen of Death").




one of the most sympathetic characters IMO is the guy who had 19 years in (assuming 20 years for retirement) in the Emerald Claw, faithfully serving his country.  Sure, he heard some rumors that the Colonel (my eberron EC was small enough to only need a colonel in charge) was doing stuff with the necromancers between battles, but thats probably some new trick for the new guys to use after he retires.  then BAM! new king comes in, throws a hissy fit after visiting the unit, and disbands the unit and gives out a mass dishonerable discharge and charges of treason.  Now he has to lead all these fanatical loonies that can barely hold a sword without hurting themselves because he'd be executed for treason in his homeland, and tried for terrorinsm and war crimes anywhere else... and then he gets captured by the overzealous, purified, Aundairn PC's...  it was hard to keep that NPC alive.
Ah, well that makes sense. I assumed that Vol had been using the Claw as a direct instrument from the start. If she only started stuffing it with her personal agents after Kaius broke ties with her then I can see why it didn't have much to do with intelligence during the greater part of its involvement with the war.




The way i played it out, from the start the EC's necromancers were loyal to the Cult of Erandis, while the soldiers were loyal to Karrnath.  Vol had some a lot of sway in what the EC did, but then she got greedy and put a colonel in charge herself.  Kaius III came in and disbanded the unit just as Vol was starting to have the EC do something besides gain territory in Thrane/Cyre, which made it look like some naive, concessionist, pansy had just declared the most decorated unit in Karrnath traitors because they couldn't march pretty in a parade.  It's almost like Vol had planned it on purpose to make Kaius look bad in front of the rest of Karrnath.
(my eberron EC was small enough to only need a colonel in charge)


Which seems reasonable to me. Again, the EC was merely one of a number of Seeker orders deployed during the war. I've used the Order of the Onyx Skull in a number of games as an order whose members were similarly disavowed but who haven't allied themselves with the Queen of Death.

One of the PCs in one of my campaigns was a paladin of the Blood of Vol. The idea for the character was that his father was a respected Karrnathi noble who served with the Emerald Claw. When Kaius turned on the order (and remember, it happened before the end of the war), the PC's father was killed by a politcal rival who had been looking for an excuse to seize his lands. The PC had been in a safe house prior to this, and he was smuggled away to the Lhazaar Principalities for safety; raised by Seekers; and personally contacted in visions by Erandis. She encouraged his seeker faith and emphasized how Kaius's betrayal had led to his father's death. SO, the PC's goal was to go to Stormreach - of the radar of his enemies in Khorvaire and build up influential allies that would let him go back, defeat first the man who stole his birthright, and then Kaius himself.

The thing about this is the the PLAYER knew that it wasn't this simple - that his PC was being used by Erandis, and that killing Kaius would be a terrible thing. Essentially, the vision of the character arc was that in the heroic tier he would raise support and try to kill his father's murderer; in the paragon tier he would kill Kaius - ideally, as a PC, actually by winning the support of warlords and actually taking Kaius' place afterwards, not simply smashing into the castle solo and beating him up; and in epic, it would become clear that he'd be used and he'd have to both fix the mistake and deal with Erandis herself. Again, a key point here is that he was a devoted seeker - while Erandis herself isn't.
Posting from work? Freaking w00t!

I think the discussion of the Emerald Claw as an intelligence organization is interesting. However, "intelligence organization" may be a bad term; "covert organization" is probably better. Nevertheless, I think it is quite possible that the EC was Karrnath's primary method of gaining covert intelligence and of executing covert (for Karrnath) action. The existance of multiple covert services in Karrnath, I think, is proof of this. At the start of the war, things are going bad for Karrnath. The EC steps in, offers its unique services, which include out-of-the-box thinking, and intelligence/covert action. Once Kaius III bans the EC, then the Warlords have to scramble to get something to fill the breach.

With that said, I think that it is entirely possible that the EC would be one of the most effective organizations at "direct action." Think about it: Thuranni makes people die "of natural causes" or a simple knife in the back. Pretty quiet. The Emerald Claw stages a raid (based from a local safehouse) and kills the hell out of the target (and probably everybody around the target). The target is dead either way. The comparison to the 75th Ranger Regiment is a very fine one, I think, in terms of battlefield roles, whereas in covert actions, the right comparison would be....well, I'm not sure, but it would be something big, loud, and powerful.

Earlier in this thread, someone suggested that perhaps Phiarlan is still following the prophecies of Aeren. That gave me an absolutely wonderful idea to explain the Shadow Schism.

Last, the thought of a Cyrean intelligence network that still exists in cells is delightful. I just need to figure out how to use it. Now....what was the Queen's Bell? I swear I've heard somewhere, but I can't remember in regards to what. Was it in Forge of War as a Cyrean unique unit?

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.

Earlier in this thread, someone suggested that perhaps Phiarlan is still following the prophecies of Aeren. That gave me an absolutely wonderful idea to explain the Shadow Schism.



details please?

I think calling the EC one of the best at overt action would be a stretch. They used to be an elite military unit, but they have been disavowed and lost their legitimate backing. As such, instead of attracting the cream of the Karrnath military, they're recruiting more and more religious fanatics. It's like five members of th 75th Ranger unit getting a dishonorable discharge then going out to the wilds of Montana to start a militia. That said, there were certainly more then five members of the original EC, and the closer you get to those original members, the better they get, but as time goes on, more and more of them are no more then simple terrorists.

Earlier in this thread, someone suggested that perhaps Phiarlan is still following the prophecies of Aeren. That gave me an absolutely wonderful idea to explain the Shadow Schism.



details please?




I cannot, for my players may be reading my threads AT THIS VERY MOMENT! 

Show
Essentially, the leader of Phiarlan uncovers a prophecy stating SOMETHING. Perhaps it talks about how things will go to hell if there are 12 Houses, but ok if there are 13, or maybe something about the Paelion line. Or perhaps all of them. But, there's a Prophecy, and Phiarlan and Thuranni act on it, cloaking their cooperation in the Shadow Schism

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
I think calling the EC one of the best at overt action would be a stretch. They used to be an elite military unit, but they have been disavowed and lost their legitimate backing. As such, instead of attracting the cream of the Karrnath military, they're recruiting more and more religious fanatics.


It depends how you present Karrnathi support of Kaius. One of the ongoing suggestions in the soruce material is that there are a number of warlords who disapprove of Kaius' actions and want to see him replaced. For these people, Kaius turning on the EC is one more piece of evidence that he is a tyrant who needs to be replaced: the EC served with distinction in the war, and their reward for this patriotic service is betrayal when the king no longer needs them. To these people, it's a sign that it's time for the Wynarn line to be replaced and the destiny of Karrnath and Galifar to rest in new hands.

Far from being religious fanatics, people from this path may not have any interest in the Blood of Vol at all. Remember that Erandis herself doesn't actually practice the faith of the Blood of Vol. Instead, she tells these people - themselves ambitious warlords and knights - that she will give them the power and forces they need to displace Kaius. You also have people like Garrow, who doesn't believe in Karrnath or the Blood of Vol, but is solely interested in the personal power he can acquire through the Blood of Vol - again, not unlike Erandis herself.

You can certainly limit it to religious fanatics, but there's certainly a basis for having highly skilled soldiers who believe that Kaius (and the entire Wynarn line) is an unfit leader - and that the Queen of Death will place their prefered leader on a new throne.

I play an espionage game in my games, actually.

Eberron is really unique in D&D settings by the fact that it's one of the few places where nations have a national character and there's mulitple ones. Faerun has Cormyr and a few city-states. Dragonlance has Solamnia and that's it. In Eberron, you have the Big Four Nations and a bunch of other smaller ones competing.

I have done a great Dark Lanterns game where the PCs are essentially MI6 agents anachronistically fighting Dargunn terrorists, the Emerald Claw, Swords of Liberty, and so on.

The only problem for me is, really, the Reidrans. I want to play them but the Quori are supposedly such Machiavellian masterminds it seems hard to ever get them "on stage."
Eberron is really unique in D&D settings by the fact that it's one of the few places where nations have a national character and there's mulitple ones. Faerun has Cormyr and a few city-states. Dragonlance has Solamnia and that's it. In Eberron, you have the Big Four Nations and a bunch of other smaller ones competing.



A-freaking-men. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Also, with the loss of a lot of their best direct action operatives to House Thuranni, Phiarlan is having trouble acting on the actionable intel they do get.

Remember that the House of Shadows is part of Phiarlan, so while they might have lost their assassins, the thieves and sneaky characters are still there. As for the Shadow Schism being an act, I can hardly claim that since it is certainly one of the suggestions in I think the Dragon Marked book. Tieing it to Aeranal is a rather simple step, especially considering the recent discussion here about Aeranel and its history ;)