I am currently running a weekly Dungeons and Dragons campaign which follows the Tyranny of Dragons published adventures. Instead of using the base setting for DnD (and the campaign as written), I am converting it to my favorite setting: Eberron!
(This series of posts is SUPER spoilery. Don’t read this if you are going through as a player and haven’t yet, especially if you’re one of mine!)
I have previously laid the groundwork for the Tyranny of Dragons by exploring the locations.
In the Original Setting…
The original setting has five factions, the traditional factions of the Sword Coast:
- The Harpers: Stealthy bards and rogues who are more or less freedom fighters– they’re a less violent Assassin Order from Assassin’s Creed.
- The Order of the Gauntlet: Clerics and Paladins who want to smite evil in the face.
- The Zhentarim: The rogues and warlocks who are actively part of the black market– willing to do anything for some coin.
- The Lords’ Alliance: The rich and the nobles who want the world to keep going for personal gain and coin.
- The Emerald Enclave: Druids and rangers who want the world to be at peace with the natural order of things.
None of these factions want the world to end; all of them, even the Zhentarim, want to stop the cult. If nothing else: it should be clear to your players that THE CULT IS BAD. (I think if I had a group of PCs side with the dragons, the next mission would be for them to get into a temple to be unknowing blood sacrifices to summon demons.)
Ally Faction #1: The Gatekeepers
The group that I’m planning to loom large in this campaign is the Gatekeepers, who are similar to the Emerald Enclave in that it is mostly made up of druids and rangers, though they are less concerned with nature. These are the orcs, half-orcs, and humans who have been sealing off daelkyr (cthulu-ish monsters) and the overlords since before humanity got to the continent. While they are usually druids and rangers, anyone can join. The Gatekeepers have a particular mission in ensuring that an overlord, even one they wouldn’t be super familiar with, like Tiamat, stays bound to their location. This is the easiest way to do three things for players new to Eberron:
- Show that orcs aren’t bad, or even stupid in Eberron (and therefore, other assumptions might be different here).
- Show that the orcs (and goblins) actually take more of a position of elves in the normal settings.
- Gives a single, solid patron (an important aspect to Eberron’s setting in particular).
Ally Faction #2: Templars of the Silver Flame (Depends on PC interest)
Another option, depending on player interest and your party’s composition, might be to offer up the Templars of the Silver Flame. These religious do-gooders are similar to the Order of the Gauntlet in a lot of ways; you would have to change the faction description very little to fit. (My player characters aren’t religious and so I won’t use this option.)
The Silver Flame is an interesting religion in that it worships a literal, metaphysical silver flame wall which divides the mortal/material world from the fiendish. It’s a belief in a flame which actually exists, which actually does the job of keeping out the worst evils. The belief follows that when a believer passes on, their soul goes on to join the Silver Flame, protecting the world and those they love for all time. (It’s important to note that the Silver Flame is more of a force than a person and doesn’t actively communicate.)
Even if the player characters aren’t interested in joining this faction, it is an important one to make into an ally, if possible.
Ally Faction #3: The Ghaash’kala (Minor Faction)
I’m including this one because I’m planning for it to make an appearance (and I love them). The Ghaash’kala are the orcs, half-orcs, and humans who originated in the Shadow Marches and live in the Demon Wastes to actively protect the world from the literal demons and devils who live there. These tribes, however, don’t follow only the Gatekeepers, but have combined aspects of the Silver Flame faith with the druidic practices of their homeland. They are the barbarian version of the Order of the Gauntlet (literally, take the barbarian subclass zealot and you’d be on the right track).
The Ghaash’kala might be interested in joining the adventurers, but they are unlikely to be found outside of the Demon Wastes– so not until the Rise of Tiamat half of the campaign.
Ally Faction(s) #4: The Five Nations
Eberron has a few factions which would have an interest in this campaign and are similar to the Lords’ Alliance. The first that comes to mind are the literal noble and political leaders of the world, especially the Five Nations: Aundair, Breland, Cyre, Karrnath, and Thrane. Your PCs are likely from one of these nations and even if they aren’t, having at least one nation’s army at their back when going against Tiamat in the end will be a vital factor in the difficulty of the last several sessions.
Unlike the Sword Coast, these nations are not nearly as closely allied and will have their own issues. Aundair HATES Karrnath and Thrane for various reasons and doesn’t want to partner with either without some major political restitution. Cyre is all but destroyed, the powers of Prince Oargev barely recognized by other nations. Karrnath has a faction which is actually somewhat connected to the Cult of the Dragon (the Emerald Claw). Thrane wants absolute conversion of the world to the Church of the Silver Flame and is still going through pains of transitioning to a theocracy from a monarchy (while the queen still lives, especially). Breland is the one nation most likely to come to the table and with minimal issues.
While these factions may be willing to help, it is important to note that they will all want to get something out of it. As I’m setting the majority of the campaign in Aundair and Breland, these two nations would be easy to convince– they’ve been attacked by dragons repeatedly. Others might take some more diplomatic play with some high RP sessions (or perhaps some blackmail acquiring sessions).
Ally Faction(s) #5: The Twelve
The second faction likely to be related to the Lords’ Alliance is The Twelve, the organization which ties the twelve dragonmarked houses together in a loose alliance. While not as politically powerful as the leaders of the Five Nations, the Twelve are the economic powerhouse of Eberron. Even if the players don’t want to work for the entire organization, having an alliance with at least one House should be considered vital to success.
- House Medani (Mark of Detection): Most likely to assist in finding cultists and rooting them out on Khorvaire and protecting the adventurers and allies from the cult’s plots.
- House Tharashk (Mark of Finding): Connect to the Gatekeepers due to their origin in the Shadow Marshes. This house is going to helpful in finding any people or objects important to the adventurers.
- House Vadalis (Mark of Animal Handling): A less useful house for this campaign, but one which can provide animals who can assist with land travel or war-beasts for battle.
- House Jorasco (Mark of Healing): A very helpful ally to have, this halfling house will make it so the adventurers may live to see another day. It is even rumored that they provide a forbidden and nearly impossible service in Eberron: bringing the dead back to life.
- House Ghallanda (Mark of Hospitality): While it might be considered a less useful ally to have in this case, I would never underestimate a free/cheaper inn for your party.
- House(s) Cannith (Mark of Making): Split into three factions since the last leader died in the Mourning, the House of Making has a few specializations. Regardless of which group the adventurers ally with, they are bound to get some boons in the form of magical materials: weapons and armor, potions, or other magical objects.
- House Orien (Mark of Passage): While this house might be overlooked at first, House Orien is the mail, the rail, and the teleportation house. Allying with Orien would mean messages would get where they are going, the adventurers can get where they’re going by rail and, in the event of the last battle, one free one-way teleportation to Argonnessen to face Tiamat.
- House Sivis (Mark of Scribing): Another ally who might not be overly important to this campaign, the best service Sivis would provide is long-distance communication with their Message stations.
- House Deneith (Mark of the Sentinel): An ally as good as having a nation’s army at your back would be the House with all the mercenaries. Deneith can also provide protection for the adventurers and Khorvaire during the cult attacks.
- Houses Phiarlan/House Thurrani (Mark of Shadow): The houses of shadow used to be one house, but now House Phiarlan is a network of spies and entertainers (actually drawing on some Harper inspiration) and House Thurrani is a network of assassins. Phiarlan is another group which can help find threats, but House Thurrani is the best at rooting them out. Quietly.
- House Lyrandar (Mark of Storm): Lyrandar is a vital house to be allied with for, if no other reason, than their ability to move the adventurers to Argonnessen and other places with their fast ships and airships. They would also have the ability to call a storm, which definitely has some tactical abilities in the final combat.
- House Kundarak (Mark of Warding): Kundarak can provide protection magic. Another house which would be beneficial, but not required.
Ally Faction #6: The Aurum
A secret society somewhere between the Lords’ Alliance the Zhentarim is the Aurum, the alliance of the super wealthy, seeking to make their wealth become even greater. Some strong Templar from Assassin’s Creed vibes. They would have a vested interest in seeing the world not end, but they are almost as equally intrigued with forging alliances and puppeteering the other factions and the existence of the final group, the Chamber.
Just below the end of the world, their primary priority is to remain anonymous. Even if they become allied with the adventurers, they will likely never reveal their faces: using either a magical means to communicate or a proxy. Just below these two goals, their priorities are to gain more wealth and more power.
Ally Faction #7: The Chamber
The last and perhaps the most important faction is the one which should remain hidden throughout at least the beginning of Hoard of the Dragon Queen. I haven’t decided yet where I expect to introduce this faction officially, but this is the faction of dragons who take a direct interest in Khorvaire and the world. They keep a watch on events, they hunt for the draconic prophecy, they are the ones guiding these other groups together with the adventurers to ensure the world doesn’t end with the escape of Tiamat. These dragons walk a line between trying to affect outcomes of the prophecies to ensure that the demons and devils do not escape from Khyber, the realm below. While this faction tries to remain hands-off in general, this is a campaign where the dragons cannot help themselves: without their assistance, the world as they know it will end.
As such, the Chamber will be an easy ally to the players, even if they don’t realize who they are working with or why. This is the faction in which everyone is either a dragon or works for a dragon, so I’m a little worried about making my players pretty much ask every NPC they meet if they’re a dragon, but that is a small cost to include an important and extremely helpful faction. Even the least helpful dragons will offer a minor assistance, trying to stay out of it all to let the prophecy unfold how it will– but a dragon’s assistance in this case is likely to be in the form of a magical object or wealth object worth far more than the players are expecting. (I’m thinking potions and spell scrolls they would likely never afford, gems to trade, and one-use +3 ammunition.)
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