is focused on the Dragonmarked Houses of Eberron, the real social and economic powerhouses that often exert more influence than any of the nations of Khorvaire. This product does a good job of discussing the various Houses, including their role in Khorvairian life, the benefits they provide, and their hierarchy. What’s more, the Feats, Prestige Classes, and spells introduced in this product are wonderful. They’re narrowly tailored and only apply to Dragonmarks and the Houses. They’re well balanced. Most importantly, they’re fun and show a real spark of creativity. Combined with new and interesting information about many of the Houses, Dragonmarked
is an excellent product.
The downside here comes more in the form of a missed opportunity. While more information on Houses is provided, it’s not as extensive as many readers would like. Little attention is paid to how the Houses interact with the nations of Eberron. While the economic effect of what amounts to giant, obscenely powerful corporations in a capitalist system is hinted at in a side bar on trade secrets, no real discussion is provided.
If you’re looking for a supplement that provides more information on the Houses along with strong support for characters focused around the Houses and/or their Marks then pick this one up.
The Physical Thing
This 160 page full color hardcover showcases the same exceptionally high production standards one would expect from Wizards of the Coast. The formatting is excellent, the editing well done, and the art is incredible. The paper has a high quality feel to it. A quality index-like table of contents is provided to make navigation easy. For its $29.95 price tag this product provides a good mix of useful setting information and game mechanics.
The Dragonmarked are people who have manifested exquisite tattoos of purple, blue, and green on their bodies. These symbols give them inherent magical power, power which has created the great Houses over the years. Each House specializes in trade centered around the benefits of a given Dragonmark. More than being a way to easy money, however, the Dragonmarks are a part of the great Draconic Prophecy which is being revealed all across Khorvaire. This product focuses on the Marks, their capabilities, and the organizations (Houses) that have been built around them.
Under the Cover
This robust introduction does more than simply introduce the product, it discusses the different types of Dragonmarked characters in the world of Eberron. It also delves into the history of the Dragonmarked Houses and introduces something called the Test of Siberys. Dragonmarks tend to form around periods of great stress, so around the time of puberty young members of the Houses are required to go through a traumatic and stressful rite that, it is hoped, will bring out their Dragonmark.
The general types of Dragonmarked include the Excoriate, the Orphan, the Foundling, the Scion, and the Agent. The Excoriate has been banished from the House for some sort of horrible transgression, and will not be aided by that House. The Orphan has left the House, either willingly or due to some sort of feud, and may having varying status depending on the circumstances. The Foundling was not born within a House but now bears the Mark associated with that House. Often, Foundlings are left to their own desires but in some cases the House will put significant pressure on the Foundling to join and conform to their wishes.
A Scion is a member of a House who avoids the administrative and political duties of the House. Often a carefree wanderer or adventurer, Scions often do temporary work for their House to help pay their way. Finally, the Agent actively works to advance the interests of their House while in the field.
In addition to discussing the history and culture of the Houses, the introduction discusses the Favored in House feats and what it means in the world. Throughout this product a variety of options are presented for those with the Favored in House Feat, all involving a check to see if the character can obtain a loan or aid from his House. I happen to dislike this, as it further reinforces the idea that the character needs a Feat in order to get any aid at all from a House. Even simple loans and services require a check, which strongly suggests that a character without this Feat can’t even acquire that from their patron organization. However, those who like this Feat will be pleased to discover that specific (if at times redundant) favor options for every House are presented in Chapter 1.
Chapter 1 The Houses 78 pages.
Each House gets its own entry and every entry begins with several sections detailing unique concerns of that House. House Cannith, for example, has one section discussing the injuries the House suffered from the destruction of Cyre. Another discusses the relevant strengths of the three major branches of the House. Beyond these concerns the write ups are largely the same. Sections on joining the House, the benefits received by typical members of that House, and the role of the House in the world generally are all provided. This would be an excellent resource for players preparing to portray a member of one of the Houses, as a few pages of reading can easily provide a lot of character considerations. The entry may even make the player more interested in House politics.
Light mechanical support is provided as well. Entries detailing the benefits that can be requested by those with the Favored in House Feat are provided. Additionally, every House has an example NPC to show off the capabilities of a random member of that House. I found the example NPCs to be exceptionally unhelpful and nothing more than filler, but they could serve as a quick ally or villain for the players.
This chapter is the weakest in the product after Magic. While it serves adequately to convey new and existing information about the Houses, as well as to reinforce the feel of each House, I would have enjoyed reading more on the politics, culture, and history of the Houses.
Chapter 2 Prestige Classes 40 pages.
One Prestige class is provided for every House, and the classes tend to be very flavorful. Several go against the grain, so to speak, and provide interesting alternatives to what the House is known for. Note that all of these PrCs have mild entry requirements that should be easy for most characters to meet. Most are available by 5th level. Additionally, all of these PrCs grant increased proficiency with the relevant Dragonmark. The classes are treated as the Dragonmark Heir for the purpose of increasing the caster level of a Mark, and they offer more uses of lower level abilities of a Mark.
The Black Dog is an assassination focused PrC for members of House Ghallanda. Black Dogs leap to the defense of weary travelers and, perhaps, do some sinister work for their House as well. This five level class offers medium BAB, a d6 HD, good Fort and Ref saves, and 6 Skill Points. In addition to a Death Attack and stealth oriented abilities, this class is primarily focused on poison. Creating, refining, using, and empowering poisons are all granted abilities. I think this is really neat, as it shows the forceful arm of a House that otherwise seems very passive.
The Blade of Orien is an extra-dimensional movement using warrior and an excellent choice for Scouts. The Blades often serve as guards on the lightning rail, teleporting from car to car in order to apprehend would be thieves. This ten level class offers full BAB, a d8 HD, a good Ref save, and 4 Skill Points. Every level the character receives a special ability tied to their Dimensional Leap and Dimension Door powers granted by the Least and Lesser Marks of Passage. They may teleport themselves short distances, teleport others against their will, teleport objects into their hands, and otherwise gain great proficiency at very short range teleportation. My only concern here is that at most a character will be able to use the Dimensional Leap – and thus most of the powers of this PrC – 10 times a day.
The Cyre Scout is a specially trained scout working for House Cannith to explore and salvage artifacts from the Mournland. This ten level class offers medium BAB, a d8 HD, good Fort and Will saves, and 2 Skill Points. The class is an interesting blend of Artificer and Ranger/Scout, and a character gains survival oriented abilities (Tireless, Direction Sense), four levels of Artificer Infusions, special abilities specific to the Mournland (may be healed for full in the Mournland), and 10 free uses of Detect Magic and Identify (no component required) per day. This is a very flavorful class that offers a nice range of abilities without becoming overbroad.
The Deneith Warden is a potent law keeper dedicated to tracking down and apprehending criminals. This 10 level class offers full BAB, a d10 HD, a good Fort save, and 4 Skill Points. A large number of special abilities include Subduing Strike (attacks can deal non-lethal at no penalty), Devoted Lawkeeper (bonus to skills and damage against criminals), Uncanny Dodge, and Lie Detector (take 10 on Sense Motive). The class as a whole is very nice and an excellent option for players who want to play a magistrate or law enforcer.
The Duraak’ash is an incredible tracker who uses their Mark of Finding to hunt down anyone House Tharashk orders them to. This ten level class offers full BAB progression, a d8 HD, good Fort and Ref saves, and 6 Skill Points. All of their many abilities are focused around Tracking, and high level Duraak’ash can even track things that leave no tracks such as Druids.
The Medani Prophet is focused on powerful magical perception that allows them to detect danger and investigate the recent past. This 5 level class offers medium BAB progression, a d6 HD, a good Will save, full divine spell casting progression, and 4 Skill Points. The special abilities here fit the theme well, the class gets to use augury often and can even look into the past with a sort of reverse-augury (ask the DM questions about the recent past).
The Nosomatic Chirurgeon is a member of House Jorasco, the Healers Guild, who has inverted their powers and now spreads pain and disease. This 5 level class offers medium BAB progression, a d8 HD, good Fort and Will saves, 4 levels of spell casting advancement and 2 Skill Points. They gain immunity to all diseases, the ability to create and spread disease, and the ability to cure disease. This results in a sinister character that could be an extremely powerful weapon of House Jorasco. A single Chirurgeon could destroy a city.
The Shadow Hunter is a House Phiarlan or Thuranni assassin focused around quickly vanishing after a hit. This 5 level class offers full BAB progression, a d8 HD, good Fort and Ref saves, and 6 Skill Points. The special powers focus around creating darkness and seeing through darkness, and the class also gains Poison Use. This class is somewhat less exciting given the others that appear in Dragonmarked.
The Silver Key is a member of House Kundarak who specializes in security. Knowing how to get into and out of secure locations is their focus, and a member of this class may be called in to test the defensive measures at a vault or other supposedly secure location. This 10 level class offers medium BAB progression, a d6 HD, good Ref and Will saves, and 6 Skill Points. The class offers a lot of special abilities related to stealth, trap avoidance, and lock bypassing. Additionally, they manifest special powers to avoid death from certain traps. Automatic water breathing, feather fall, and remove paralysis effects can be invoked once a day for a limited time.
The Storm Sentry is a soldier of House Lyrandar dedicated to defending airships. This 5 level class offers full BAB progression, a d10 HD, good Fort and Ref saves, and 4 Skill Points. They gain abilities such as feather fall and improved gust of wind, but their real power comes from Lyrandar’s Fist which allows them to, an unlimited number of times, summon powerful blasts of wind that knock opponents back. Blowing enemies right off the deck of an airship sounds like a lot of fun.
The Unbound Scroll is a House Sivis spellcaster who specializes in scroll use. This 5 level class offers poor BAB progression, a d4 HD, a good Will save, 4 levels of spell casting advancement, and 2 Skill Points. The class gains the ability to apply metamagic to scrolls, to reduce the scribing cost of scrolls, and ultimately to duplicate the spells on scrolls at no cost (so long as the spell has no other XP cost). While losing a level of spell casting progression is always a major detriment, this class gains substantial abilities to make up for it.
Finally, the Vadalis Beastkeeper is a specialist in mage-breeding. This 10 level class offers full BAB progression, a d8 HD, good Fort and Ref saves, and 6 Skill Points. An excellent choice for a Ranger, members of this class gain up to 4th level nature spells and may apply the Magebred template to any animals they summon. Additionally, both the character and her animal companion gain the Magebred template over time.
Chapter 3 New Feats 12 pages.
The 58 new Feats here are exceptionally well done. Very generally, there are two major types of new Feats. First, there are Feats that provide new types of Dragonmarks. These tend to expand on the Aberrant Dragonmarks and either offer additional levels for those marks or some sort of strange permutation. For example, an Aberrant Mark may become a Mark of Vengeance which allows the character to drain life from those who have True Dragonmarks.
Second, there are Feats that further expand upon existing Marks. The Mark of Stars, for example, may be taken by characters who have a Mark of Siberys. It gives the character +2 AC, Reflex Saves, and prevents them from ever being surprised or flat-footed. The Mark of the Dauntless prevents the character from ever being dazed or stunned and allows them to remove those conditions from others.
I love these Feats. They’re very flavorful and offer up many, many more options for Dragonmarked characters. There are feats for every type of Mark and for most major organizations – especially the Druidic groups.
Chapter 4 Magic and Dragonmarks 12 pages.
This chapter presents a small number of spells based around hiding Dragonmarks, harming the Dragonmarked, and altering or enhancing Dragonmarks. They’re flavorful and narrowly tailored – I might take some of them if I were playing a Dragonmarked spellcaster. However, I suspect most folk will skim over these spells and move on unless the campaign is specifically based around dealing with people who possess Dragonmarks.
This is definitely one of the better Eberron supplements out there. While I would have enjoyed more in depth discussion of the Houses, and their influence on Khorvaire, I am pleased to own this product and anticipate using it extensively in future games. While we all have hundreds of Feats and Prestige Classes to choose from already, I really enjoyed these. They tend to be very flavorful, and the Feats in particular offer a lot more character options for players who have an interest in the Dragonmarks. This book also makes it much easier to run a House based game or a game where the players are hunting down the bearers of Aberrant Marks, who are depicted through the Feats as often being malign.
Whether you want to run a game focused on Dragonmarks and the Houses or just want more character options this is an excellent addition to any Eberron library.