Cool storylines involving Eberron's industries/politics/economic disparities?
February 3, 2011 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Eberron veterans! Help a DM (new to Eberron, not to DMing) out. I'm looking for intriguing plot hooks that specifically exploit two of the setting's distinctive characteristics: the treatment of magic as everyday technology, and the huge rich/poor gap (i.e., the extent to which the dragonmarked houses dominate). Share your stories, unused campaign hooks, or idle musings. Our preferred focus is role-playing, not roll-playing.

If it matters:
- we're using 3.5

- we're not playing in the Eberron world; I'm going to import elements of Eberron into my homebrewed world

- no story hook is too subversive, dark, political, or baffling...but go easy on the goofy

- story hook suggestions from non-Eberron settings that seem suited to Eberron are also welcome

- in my setting, the gods are real and mostly—but by no means entirely—hands-off

- in the timeframe that I'm Eberronizing, dragons have mysteriously disappeared from the world (well prior to the Last War) and elves are just beginning their Obligatory Tolkienesque Exodus for other planes (immediately after the Last War)

- in our campaign history, the Last War is not a war of succession, but a transcontinental clash of cultures (human-dominated classic-fantasy kingdoms vs. a yuan-ti-dominated empire, specifically). There are other changes from the Eberron history, but these are the major ones.
posted by AugieAugustus to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Our preferred focus is role-playing, not roll-playing.

What kind of stories are the players interested in?

What are their characters' ambitions and goals?
posted by Sauce Trough at 4:55 PM on February 3, 2011

So, I'm skipped on getting into Eberron, but if you want fun hooks for magic-tech and rich/poor divides, try looking at all the sorts of conflicts we had through the industrial revolution and adapting them:

- The last temple of a dying religion- scheduled to be demolished to build a railway through.
- The magical equivalent of a hydroelectric dam, to power a city- an aquatic river race who suffer from it's existence.
- Industrialized magic-warfare- "Get the magic squad to summon 100 Invisible Stalkers to take out the enemies", "Polymorph into a green dragon, spew poisonous gas throughout the tunnels, that'll teach'em", etc.
- The Evil City supported by Good Cities - there's a city-state which has slavery, forced labor, necromancy, etc. etc.- it's protected by several good nations around it- because it's a source of cheap labor and goods- the good nations depend on the evil nation's exploitation for their own success.
- The Warforged Naval Unit - submersible, needs no oxygen, exploring the oceanic depths/fighting with kuo toa, etc.

- Races of War is a great reference for D&D-ish beanplating- it thinks hard about how social order would work, warfare, etc. I've seen it on a couple of forums (WOTC link, there), but the most complete version is a pdf netbook if you take time to hunt around.
posted by yeloson at 6:36 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

When I played in a 3.5 Eberron game in college, the best hook I saw in terms of the industrialization of magic and the rich/poor divide was being sent down into the industrial/slum Cogs area of Sharn by some members of house D'Cannith to investigate some renegade warforged or something that was wreaking havoc down below(possibly it involved a secret and outlawed soul forge generating new warforged that was being used by a renegade member of the house.) He was primarily interested in preventing political fallout, and not with the lives of the poor proles that were being ended.

I realize it's a hombebrew world, but the type of literally stratification of rich and poor in a vertical city like Sharn, itself made possible by magic used on a mass scale, is a pretty great backdrop for the type of stories it sounds like you want to tell.
posted by Muttoneer at 8:52 PM on February 3, 2011

Funny you should mention this now, because I'm currently running an Eberron campaign (4e), and the gap between rich and poor is a major plot thread of the current adventure.
I'm running the Living Forgotten Realms adventure Twisted Roots Run Deep, ported into Eberron. The new setting is Stormhome, the headquarters of House Lyrandar.

Here's the (revised) plot. The PCs are a group of adventurers hunting down an Emerald Claw strike team. They tracked them to Stormhome. There, the trail became hard to follow, because the Claw used the services of House Tarkanan, which had recently become the major force in the city's underworld, complete with smuggling, black marketeering, and the odd bits of theft and extortion. House Tarkanan had begun recruiting from the poor of the city by spreading hatred for House Lyrandar, and dragonmarked houses in general. In particular, they frequented the neighborhood of an orphanage, recruiting orphans as pickpockets, and giving special training to the best of them.

Councilman Vummos d'Lyrandar suspects that someone else on the council is protecting them. When he discovers that the PCs are investigating, he contacts one of them, voices his suspicions, gives them a couple leads, and offers them money in exchange for the evidence that will bring down the criminal member of the council.

We had a very amusing roleplay session that involved, among other things:
- street performers mocking a pair of well-armored PC soldiers of the Silver Flame in front of a crowd of dock workers, orphans, and other lower-class sort.
- a warforged fighter impressing the orphans with tales of battle, and his ability to detach and reattach his components. (He eventually adopts one of them.)
- a barbarian playing jump-rope with a group of orphans, who chanted a rhyme about destroying each of the dragonmarked houses
- a rather bookish House Cannith artificer scoping out a richer neighborhood, finding no trace of House Tarkanan, but accidentally stumbling into a high-class brothel.

Eventually, they find a small office building that acts as a "legitimate business" front for Tarkanan, and from there, went on to bust up the gang, get evidence of who's supporting them, and some info on where the Emerald Claw is heading next. (Actually, they haven't done the last bit yet; I'll wrap up the adventure tomorrow night.)
posted by CrunchyFrog at 9:25 PM on February 3, 2011

Thanks guys, good food for thought.

I was just working on some alignment fundamentals and had to ask:

Is it evil to bind an elemental?
Or, at least, is it sufficiently not-good that paladins and their ilk would have a problem with it? And if so, mightn't that have a profound impact on their actions/churches/etc. w/r/t the rest of the world?

Sauce Trough: What kind of stories are the players interested in? What are their characters' ambitions and goals?

Too early to know that. I generally disallow evil PCs, though, fwiw.
posted by AugieAugustus at 3:54 PM on February 7, 2011

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