The Defense of Cyre
Life in Khorvaire
While the conflict of the Last War is widespread, not every location is a battle zone. Great portions of every nation have never suffered invasion or attack. On the other hand, locations in every nation have suffered through the war, and some sites have switched hands a dozen times or more as the century-long conflict unfolds. Particularly along the borders of the nations, bloodshed and violence comes and goes as the war progresses.
Galifar was a feudal monarchy, as are most of the nations that formed after the outbreak of the Last War shattered that legendary kingdom. In addition to the rural farmers, a middle class of laborers and shop owners has developed in the larger towns and cities. The mercantile barons that control the dragonmarked houses align themselves with no nation, which allows them to operate independently and in all nations, though most can’t help but associate more strongly with one nation.
The thirteen dragonmarked houses constitute an aristocracy of commerce and industry across Khorvaire. The blood members of each family have wealth and social status that puts them firmly in the middle to upper classes of Khorvairian society. The house nobles and their immediate relatives share the highest status in the land, equivalent to the royal houses and the highest-ranking clergy. Scions further removed from the main bloodline share and take advantage of this status as the nobles allow, but on their own they rank in the middle class.
Farmers dominate the countryside of most of the nations, raising crops and providing food. In some nations, farmers are serfs indentured to the lords that control their lands. In others, farmers are free workers who own or lease their land and pay taxes for protection and other services they require of the ruling class. Farmers toil through the daylight hours and rest when darkness covers the land. They live within a mile or so of a trading village, which is guarded in turn by a local lord and his keep or castle. When legal disputes arise, it is the manor lord (or his appointed officer) who settles disagreements and issues rulings.
Some farmers have magic to help them with their chores. This magic might be provided by their lord or purchased from a dragonmarked house.
Some farmers in every nation have seen firsthand the degradations of the Last War. The average farmer doesn’t wander far from his or her home, but every family has a member that went off to fight the war or seek employment in a city, and everyone knows someone whose brother or sister decided to become an adventurer and leave home in search of fame or fortune.
Some townsfolk and city-dwellers engage in a craft or trade of some kind, though for every professional there are three or more common laborers working in the city. Merchants and shop owners, smiths, leatherworkers, and artisans of all descriptions live and work in the cities. Many use some magic to ply their craft; magewrights cast magecraft themselves; others hire magewrights to assist them when the funds are available.
People live in close proximity in the cities, shopping in the markets, working, relaxing as the opportunity presents itself. City-dwellers have a bit more access to the conveniences of magic than their rural counterparts do. The dragonmarked houses maintain pavilions and emporiums in many good-sized towns and cities, where their services can be purchased on a regular basis. Magewrights are more abundant in the towns and cities, and even the least well-to-do city has everbright lanterns to light at least the major thoroughfares and exchanges.
In a city, law and order prevails—or at least it tries to. A city watch patrols the streets, a local garrison protects the trade roads and caravan routes passing nearby. Courts and councilors hold sway over matters of law, deciding disputes and determining guilt or innocence through something akin to due process.
From the rural communities that dot the countryside to the villages, towns, and cities that rise wherever need and circumstance come together, the people of Khorvaire fall into three economic categories: poor, middle class, and wealthy. There are ranges and degrees of wealth in each category.
Six out of ten people in the Five Nations are common farmers, unskilled laborers, and tradesfolk who are in the poor economic class, having no more than 40 or 50 silver pieces on hand at any given time, and most having considerably less.
Three out of ten people are in the middle class, including skilled laborers, prosperous traders and shop owners, skilled artisans, most nobility, low-level adventurers, and some members of the dragonmarked families who normally have a few hundred gold pieces or more on hand.
One out of ten people fall into the wealthy category, those with access to a few thousand gold pieces at any given time. This class includes merchant lords, barons of commerce, the patriarchs and matriarchs of the dragonmarked families, the most popular and successful artisans, mid- to high-level adventurers, and the ruling royalty.
Throughout the Five Nations, formal schooling is considered a right and a necessary part of every child’s training. Rural manors maintain schools for the sons and daughters of the peasants and laborers. Private tutors provide an education for the children of royal and economic nobility. In towns and cities, schools cater to all who wish to attend. In no case is education mandatory; however, most people understand the advantages offered to them by the remnants of the Galifar education system.
Higher education and study is available at a number of colleges and universities, as well as among the religious institutions. For those who don’t want to become scholars, apprenticeships and on-the-job training replace higher education. The exception to this system involves magewrights and wizards, who must attend one of the magical colleges for at least some of their training.
Due to the widespread influence of the dragonmarked houses across Khorvaire, Common developed into the language of the land. Commerce and diplomacy use Common to communicate on a level basis. It is prevalent and as universal as any language could be across the continent. Common is the primary language of the Five Nations. It is a necessary second language in the Mror Holds and Zilargo, and used extensively even in the Talenta Plains. Other prominent languages on the continent include Dwarven, Gnome, Elven, Halfling, Goblin, and Orc. Scholars and arcanists also study Draconic, the ancient language of dragons and magic.
In Aerenal, the Elven language dominates the land, though Common is retained for trade and diplomatic purposes. The Inspired of Sarlona speak Quori, while the lesser classes speak Riedran, which combines Old Common with a scattering of Quori words and phrases. The barbarian tribes of Seren and Argonnessen speak a mutated form of Common called Argon, while the dragons speak Draconic and have at least a passing familiarity with the languages of the lesser races.
The main continent of Eberron, at least from the point of view of the humans and their closest kin, is Khorvaire. In ages past, the goblinoids ruled the continent. By the time the first human settlers arrived 3,000 years ago, the goblinoid nations were already in ruin. Their time had passed, and the stage was set for humans and the other newer races to carve out their own age.
On Khorvaire, humans settled what became known as the Five Nations. Dragonmarks began to appear, and the dragonmarked families developed into the mercantile houses as time went on. Humans interacted with the races they encountered—trading and forming partnerships with dwarves, gnomes, and half lings, conflicting with and driving off goblinoids and other monster races. In time, humans and their allied races (including elves, who migrated from Aerenal to forge a new way of life on Khorvaire) controlled the central region of the continent. They settled large portions of what is now the Eldeen Reaches, Aundair, Breland, Thrane, Zilargo, Cyre, Karrnath, the Talenta Plains, the Mror Holds, and the Lhazaar Principalities.
Eventually, the great and wondrous kingdom of Galifar arose from the joining of the Five Nations—the original human settlements. During the reign of the Galifar kings and queens, human lands expanded, the dragonmarked houses stabilized, and wonders such as Sharn, the City of Towers, and the Korranberg Library were established. The shining kingdom was legendary, even in its own time, and for good cause.
Many of the most amazing accomplishments of Khorvairian civilization came to pass during Galifar’s almost nine hundred years of existence. The mastery of magic and the arcane arts, which developed through the efforts of the Twelve, King Galifar I’s Arcane Congress, and similar enterprises that followed, led to the construction of great cities, wondrous monuments, magical conveniences, and powerful weapons of war. Massive civil works projects, bolstered by magic, paved the way for the metropolitan centers of central Khorvaire. Magic helped crops grow and herds prosper, so hunger rarely struck the inhabitants of the kingdom.
In its day, Galifar stretched from the Barren Sea to the Lhazaar Sea, covering every mile of the continent. In practical terms, the crown claimed the entire continent but was only able to govern the central region with any proficiency. The farther one traveled toward the edges of the continent, the more wild, undeveloped, and uncivilized the land became. This fact was especially true in the areas that would eventually become the Shadow Marches, Droaam, Darguun, Q’barra, and Valenar. These frontier regions attracted some humans, but were more likely to be home to the monstrous races. The humans that did make the trip to these areas fell into a few categories: explorers, profiteers, missionaries, and settlers. Profit made an excellent incentive for sending people into the wilderness. There were resources to discover and gather, trade routes to open, maps to create, and money to be made. Some explorers set out for crown and glory, others just to see what was out there. More often, however, explorers were attached to profiteering projects designed to open up some part of the wilderness for use by the civilized regions. This led to the construction of trading posts and supply outposts from which additional expeditions could be launched.
Trading posts developed into settlements in some locations, and there were always those who sought to find new and better lives in new lands. Settlers had hard lives, and many fell victim to monster raids and other hazards, but a few settlements survived. The human–orc communities of the Shadow Marches, for example, are in this category.
Missionaries occasionally delved deep into the wilderness to bring the message of their faith to the natives. Some, such as the Sovereign Host, went to teach. Others went to destroy, as with the lycanthrope extermination launched by the Silver Flame.
In 894 YK, King Jarot, the last king of Galifar, died. With his death, the kingdom of Galifar collapsed. Civil war erupted as his scions refused to uphold tradition and instead battled for the crown. This conflict, which became known as the Last War thanks to headlines plastered across many years’ worth of Korranberg Chronicles, has lasted almost a century. It has changed the political makeup of the continent. While not every country recognizes them, new nations have been formed from pieces of the old. Though the original Five Nations have been shattered, the common usage remains: “By the Five Nations” continues to be the pledge (or curse) of choice.
Warforged in Khorvaire
The newest race to appear on the continent is the warforged. This created race of living constructs first appeared in their current form in 965 YK. Though they are property, as time passes it has become apparent that the warforged are as sentient and free-willed as any of the other prominent races of Khorvaire. This has not stopped them from being associated with the scope and destruction of the Last War, and some voices are already asking about their eventual fate when the conflict is resolved.