Eberron: Shadows of the Last War
The Dragonmarked Houses
The Dragonmarked Houses are thirteen extended families which control most business throughout Khorvaire. Within the houses, only a small percentage of every generation manifest dragonmarks, which are marks on the body that grant spell-like abilities to those born with them. There used to be thirteen dragonmarks but only twelve remain. Each family possesses only one type of mark, and only one or two races can manifest a particular type of mark. With the exception of House Phiarlan and House Thuranni (which both possess the Mark of Shadow), each house exclusively has only one type of dragonmark.
Dragonmarks come in five forms: aberrant, least, lesser, greater, and Siberys. Aberrant dragonmarks are deviations from normal marks and are not recognized by the dragonmarked houses. People who have aberrant dragonmarks are commonly believed to have been warped by Khyber, the Dragon Below.
The worst punishment for a member of a dragonmarked house is called excoriation. It is similar to excommunication in that the other members of the house are not allowed to have any contact with the excoriate under threat of severe punishment themselves. Excoriates may not even avail themselves of the publicly-available services their house provides. Excoriation is the punishment for only the worst offenses that dishonor the house. In prior times, the house would actually flay the dragonmark from the person’s body. If the person survived excoriation, the missing dragonmark would regrow on a different part of the body and continue to function, but its use caused severe pain to the person.
The source material states that each of the houses are not traced back to a single member bearing a certain mark, rather that certain marks manifested in certain regions on specific races and families. After several generations these families began to understand the significance of each individual mark and came to see certain marks as “true marks”, marks that breed true in a bloodline. Aberrant marks are those that manifest as a consequence of interbreeding of bloodlines.
Ultimately the true bloodlines would wage war on those with aberrant marks in a conflict known as the War of the Mark. The results of this conflict would unite the true bloodlines officially into the current houses represented and lead to a founding of the council known as the Twelve. The Twelve would become responsible for codifying the traditions of the dragonmarked families and set forth the standards by which the current houses are governed.
Eventually a man who famously became known as Galifar I would succeed in uniting the continent together into the nation of Galifar, the house leaders would come together in the city of Korth and make arrangements with the would-be-king that would limit their political power in exchange for assurances of their continued economic strength. These would become known as the Korth Edicts and would last for a thousand years and were designed to prevent members of any of the dragonmarked houses from creating standing armies (excepting House Deneith to provide mercenary services), disallowing members of the houses from marrying into the aristocracy of Galifar, and insuring that no house could hold a grant of land.
By the time the Last War was in full swing, the Korth Edicts would be set aside allowing house enclaves to maintain forces and by the end of the war several houses now have large land holdings of their own. Many of the houses themselves were said to wield as much power as the nations themselves and it is doubtful any of the twelve new nations have enough power to enforce the terms or renegotiate the edict.
The True Houses
Mark of Making:
Tinkers Guild: repairs and maintenance
Fabricators Guild: construction and production
Heraldic beast: Gorgon
The mark of making first appeared in the Eberron setting approximately 2500 Years before the foundation of the Kingdom of Galifar and has always distinguished itself as the leader amongst the other dragonmarked houses. They are considered to be the foremost experts in dragonshards and best known for the invention of everbright lanterns, lightning rail and the race of warforged. Their success is due to their ability to mass-produce magical wares at reasonable prices.
As of the current time period in the setting, the house is divided into three distinct factions that are vying for control of the house in the wake of the destruction of the nation of Cyre. Cannith South is ruled by Merrix d’Cannith from the city of Sharn, Cannith West is ruled by Jorlanna d’Cannith from Aundair, and Cannith East which is ruled by Zorlan from Karnnath.
Dragonmark Abilities: The Mark of Making grants the power to mend or fabricate material goods.
Mark of Sentinel:
Defenders Guild: Protection
Blademarks Guild: Hirelings and mercenaries
Heraldic beast: Chimera
House Deneith operates under a strict military hierarchy. Since all houses have vowed to stay neutral in conflicts, House Deneith supplies to both sides of a conflict. It is also the only house allowed to maintain an active army.
Dragonmark Abilities: The Mark of Sentinel grants various powers related to personal protection.
Mark of Hospitality. 3200 years old.
Hostelers Guild: bars and inns.
Heraldic beast: Blink dog.
Although most halflings are nomadic, the members of House Ghallanda operate an impressive number of entertainment institutions, all over Khorvaire.
Dragonmark Abilities: ability to manipulate arcane energy to generate shelter and sustenance
Mark of Healing. 3000 years old.
Healers Guild: health.
Heraldic beast: Griffon.
House Jorasco provides mundane health care services to the public, as well as magical healing to those who can afford it. Common people visit House Jorasco hospitals instead of churches, since clerics generally reserve their healing abilities for the faithful.
Dragonmark Abilities: healing; depending on the size of the dragonmark, the individual can be restricted to healing small wounds, or to curing major diseases, even regenerating lost limbs
Mark of Warding. 2500 years old.
Banking Guild: money, loans and safekeeping.
Warding Guild: security and protection.
Heraldic beast: Manticore.
Dragonmark Abilities: ability to lay magical alarms and traps.
House Kundarak operates out of the Mror Holds, running the banking and moneylending business in Khorvaire. With close ties to House Sivis, all kinds of coin exchange, credit and safekeeping services are provided by House Kundarak.
Mark of Storm. 2000 years old.
Raincallers Guild: provides good weather for farmers.
Windwrights Guild: transport over water or through the air.
Heraldic beast: Kraken.
House Lyrandar members have the power to manipulate the weather, and have used that power to create an island paradise for themselves, off the coast of Aundair (called Stormhome).
Dragonmark Abilities: power over wind and weather.
Mark of Detection. 1500 years old.
Warning Guild: protection with prescience.
Heraldic beast: Basilisk.
Because the members of House Medani can see trouble coming, they are very effective in personal security. Its magic item inventions were instrumental in ending the War of the Mark.
Dragonmark Abilities: bearers of this mark can sense hidden threats, such as poison.
Mark of Passage. 2000 years old.
Couriers Guild: postal service.
Transportation Guild: freight.
Heraldic beast: Unicorn.
Members of House Orien control the Lightning Rail and several caravan routes.
Dragonmark Abilities: dependent upon the size of the mark, bearers may possess great speed, the ability to fly or even teleportation.
Mark of Shadow: 3000 years old.
Entertainers and Artisans Guild: entertainment.
Heraldic beast: Hydra.
Part of House Phiarlan split off recently, to form House Thuranni. According to rumour, the members of House Phiarlan also engage in espionage.
Dragonmark Abilities: powers over illusion, deception and scrying.
Mark of Scribing. 2800 years old.
Speakers Guild: diplomatic services and translation.
Notaries Guild: notary services.
Heraldic beast: Cockatrice.
The members of House Sivis guarantee the authenticity of documents. It is known for its impartiality, and is relied on to send sensitive information securely. It is also known for its bureaucratic red tape.
Dragonmark Abilities: power over written and spoken word. Through use of dragonshards, can communicate over vast distances with the speed of the wind.
Mark of Finding. 1000 years old.
Finders Guild: finding.
Race: Human and Half-Orc.
Heraldic beast: Dragonne.
The members of House Tharashk are highly skilled trackers and bounty hunters. They are also in the mining business, and control most of the trade with Eberron dragonshards.
Dragonmark Abilities: can track things that are lost or hidden through use of their mark.
Mark of Shadow. 25 years old.
Heraldic beast: Displacer beast.
Like its parent, House Phiarlan, House Thuranni is in entertainment business. The members left Aerenal and travelled to Khorvaire around the time of the destruction of House Vol.
Dragonmark Abilities: power over illusion, deception and scrying.
Mark of Handling. 1800 years old.
Handlers Guild: breeding.
Heraldic beast: Hippogriff.
The members of House Vadalis breed any number of animals, mostly mounts, but also animals used in offense or defense, or pets. House Vadalis operates out of the Eldeen Reaches.
Dragonmark Abilities: animals bred by those bearing the Mark of Handling are more intelligent, stronger, faster and more powerful than those bred and/or trained by those without the aforementioned mark.
Aberrant Marks. Age unknown.
Race: Any race capable of bearing a dragonmark.
Heraldic beast: Beholder.
Aberrant marks can be created when two dragonmark bearing people, each of whom has a different dragonmark, have children. They are considered an abomination by the trueborn houses. Sometimes aberrant marks spontaneously appear on members of races that can bear dragonmarks.
House Tarkanan is not an official house recognized by governments or other dragonmarked houses. It was founded by Thora Tavin, a former Brelish spy who worked as part of a group of Aberrant Marked spies. Near the end of the Last War she recruited several of the spies and fled Brelish service. She named her organization “House Tarkanan” as a mockery against other dragonmarked houses – Lord Halas Tarkanan was a leader of Aberrant Dragonmarked people during the War of the Marks. It currently exists as a loose criminal association of people bearing aberrant dragonmarks, hiring its services for robbery and assassination. It has a presence in Sharn.
Mark of Death. 3300 or more years old. Extinct.
One of the first dragonmarks to manifest, the Mark of Death was also the first dragonmark lost. Several times it has allegedly re-surfaced but they were either all hoaxes or Aberrant Dragonmarks.
Dragonmark Abilities: Unknown. It is thought to have given its bearers powers over death but its exact effects are long lost to time.