Heroes of Prophecy
Dragonmarks and the Dragonmarked Houses
Symbols of power and mystery, dragonmarks manifest on certain members of select bloodlines. They are colorful magical marks appearing on the skin that grant powers to their bearers. Over the last two thousand years, the families carrying these marks have organized themselves into mercantile dynasties known as the dragonmarked houses. Dragonmarks appear in three increasingly powerful aspects (least, lesser, and greater), as well as the extremely rare and relatively mysterious Syberis mark.
If the Five Nations are the political powers in Eberron, the dragonmarked houses are the economic power in Eberron. The Houses have major business interests throughout Khorvaire, and even more they are a source of price-reduction and quality assurance. The cheap services of many of the dragonmarked houses is responsible for such things as cheap medical care compared to a normal campaign setting, and some dragonmarked houses give marks of approval to unassociated businesses which pass quality exams. Due to their strong family ties, the dragonmarked houses are more loyal and enduring than would otherwise be possible for business conglomerates; their (in some cases extreme) age gives them a large amount of political power in governments across Khorvaire.
Not all members of the dragonmarked families actually manifest dragonmarks; in fact, only small portions possess the marks that define their House. Moreover, the Houses have a multitude of retainers and hirelings who are involved in the House businesses. Thus, dragonmarked individuals are highly prized by the Houses and are usually marked for great things.
House Cannith—Mark of Making
The humans in possession of the Mark of Making are great worksmen, both magical and mundane. Both the Tinkers Guild and the Fabricators Guild arise from House Cannith. Good relations with House Cannith are critical for all nations and other Houses, making those with the Mark of Making quite powerful in Khorvaire’s politics. Unfortunately, the House made its headquarters in Cyre and lost most of its leaders on the Day of Mourning, so House Cannith is fractured between three leaders in different parts of Khorvaire, each of which seeks power over the entire House.
House Deneith—Mark of Sentinel
The human House Deneith has the most military power of any of the dragonmarked houses and is run accordingly. The House runs the Blademarks Guild and the Defenders Guild, the latter of which provides bodyguard services while the former contracts mercenaries for the highest bidder. It was the mercenary contracting of House Deneith that paved the way to the independence of Darguun; the House still holds great power in that region.
House Ghallanda—Mark of Hospitality
Composed of halflings, House Ghallanda is the prime mover in the traveling service industry. The Hospitalers Guild runs inns and restaurants across Khorvaire in order to support the continent’s mobile population. The Guild also has a major inspection branch, as the seal of approval from House Ghallanda is a much sought-after award among independent businesses.
House Jorasco—Mark of Healing
Less tied to their ancestral homeland than House Ghallanda, the halflings of House Jorasco are the purveyors of healing services to all of Khorvaire. The Healers Guild hospitals use a combination of magical and mundane healing methods on all types of maladies, from wounds to disease and even mental patients.
House Kundarak—Mark of Warding
The dwarven House Kundarak holds the greatest reserves of wealth in Khorvaire, and its banking empire is a mighty power on the continent. The Banking Guild operates like a modern-day bank, offering accounts, loans, letters of credit, and safe-deposit boxes accessible from any major branch. The House also runs a speculation business in a variety of areas that is available to wealthy clients. The House also maintains the Warding Guild, which peddles in magical and mundane security and runs several prominent prisons throughout Khorvaire, including the infamous Dreadhold. House Kundarak is closely tied to House Sivis, which provides scribing services, document verification, communication, and mediators.
House Lyrandar—Mark of Storm
Control over the weather has served the half-elves of House Lyrandar well. The Windrights Guild is responsible for a large portion of sea travel in the waters around Khorvaire (as long as almost all air travel using newly invented airships). Moreover, the House meets a completely different set of interests through the agricultural-boosting services of the Raincallers Guild.
House Medani—Mark of Detection
The half-elves of House Medani oversee the Warning Guild, which offers services of skilled bodyguards ever watchful for imminent threats. It is closely tied to Breland, and tends to favor that nation in its dealings. Armed with the Mark of Detection, they hire out specialists in everything from poison detetion to personal security to inquisitive work. They also are adept at catching spies, sometimes drawing them into conflict with House Phiarlan and House Thuranni- two houses whose business often requires gaining access to restricted areas.
House Orien—Mark of Passage
House Orien’s humans are involved in a great number of overland travel businesses, maintaining trade roads, caravan routes, and more recently lightning rails throughout Khorvaire. The Transportation Guild is responsible for these services, and travel in Eberron along any Orien road tends to be exceptionally safe. The Couriers Guild is responsible for moving messages, packages, and people across Khorvaire, and their discretion is famous.
House Phiarlan—Mark of Shadow
Bearing the Mark of Shadow, the elven House Phiarlan are master entertainers. The Entertainers Guild maintains operations throughout Khorvaire and their performances go at high price, while the Artisans Guild provides great works of art for nobles and others willing to pay for their services. However, House Phiarlan is not the only House to bear the Mark of Shadow; during the Last War the House split and the other half, known now as House Thuranni, operates in direct competition with their previous housemates.
House Sivis—Mark of Scribing
The gnomes of House Sivis are masters of the written and spoken word. They have carefully built a reputation of utter impartiality, which makes them popular as mediators and such. The Speakers Guild offers a number of services, including translators, mediators, and advocates to deal with other parties, as well as offering a network of magical communication across the continent. The Notaries Guild ties together much of the contract portion of society with arcane marks verifying important documents, and also offers scribing of letters which can only be read by certain individuals.
House Tharashk—Mark of Finding
Springing from the Shadow Marches, the humans and half-orcs of House Tharashk (along with a sizable and respected but not dragonmarked orc population) are masters at locating many things. The Finders Guild runs a large variety of operations, including prospecting both for hire and for their own purposes, bounty hunting, and locating stolen goods. The House also maintains the small mercenary trade out of Droaam, where its orcs have an easier time dealing with inhabitants than House Deneith’s negotiators.
House Thuranni—Mark of Shadow
The schism of House Phiarlan 26 years ago after a series of assasination plots converged into a fratricidal bloodbath resulted in the creation of the rival elf House Thuranni. There is no love lost between the houses today. House Thuranni is strongest in northern and eastern Khorvaire, although it is still much smaller than House Phiarlan. With their Mark of Shadow, its entertainers are darker, more audacious, and more iconoclastic, and compete directly for services with House Phiarlan, offering similar, if less refined services.
House Vadalis—Mark of Handling
The humans of House Vadalis are masters of animal husbandry, fostering a great variety of animals and selling superb magebred animals to wealthier clients. The Handlers Guild also offers other services, including animal training and healing, stabling services in a great number of areas, relatively slow messenger birds for messages to isolated areas, and the like.
House Tarkanan is a criminal guild specializing in assasination and theft, set up as a mockery of a dragonmarked house. It is actively recruiting those with aberrant dragonmarks and training them for these purposes. Unlike other dragonmarks, aberrant marks are not bound to any bloodline and can appear on anyone, of any race.
Dragonmarks are not limited to the Houses, where they are passed down by blood, and aberrant dragonmarks appear from time to time on member of dragonmarked races (humans, half-elves, half-orcs, dwarves, halflings, elves, gnomes). While aberrant dragonmarks confer similar powers to true dragonmarks, the aberrant marks are not hereditary and have never sprouted much organization. Long ago, the War of the Mark attempted to exterminate abberrant dragonmarks; these days they are mostly considered an oddity, although the true dragonmark families usually shun those with aberrant marks.
Mark of Death
Legend speaks of a thirteenth dragonmark, the Mark of Death, which was born by an elvish family long ago. Most, even within the dragonmarked families, discard this as a baseless rumor. This is supported by the fact that all previous “remanifestations” of the Mark of Death have turned out to be aberrant dragonmarks.