The last war is a devastating 100 year long war which ripped apart Khorvaire and has only just recently come to a halt. For a brief overview of how the Last War affected Eberron, read the article below.
For a detailed History of the Last War follow the link.
Important Last War Concepts
Argonth – A large mobile battlestation
Armies of Aundair
Armies of Breland
Armies of Cyre
Armies of Karrnath
Armies of Thrane
The Black Highway – Undergound criminal network
Dragonmarked Houses during the war
The Manifest Legion
Mercenaries of Darguun
Mercenaries of Droaam
Mercenaries of Valenar
The Mror Holds
The Shadow War
Shavarath – The plane of Endless War
The Tribunal of Thronehold
The Last War
By Keith Baker
The stormship dropped from the night sky. The sleek longboat's black hull was almost invisible from the ground. A ring of elemental air held the ship aloft, only revealed when lightning flashed around the ring. A roll of thunder heralded the arrival of the warship, and a wave of arrows rained down upon the Cyran army.
Sorcerous blasts of fire shattered the battlefield, killing friend and enemy alike. Within minutes, hundreds of soldiers were dead, and the tide of battle had been irrevocably altered.
The kingdom of Galifar ruled the continent of Khorvaire for almost 900 years. This peace was far from perfect. The western coast was a haven for all manner of beasts and monsters. Hostile goblins and kobolds lurked in the high mountains. Lhazaar lords sought profit on the seas. Occasionally a prince of Galifar would turn against tradition and fight the laws of succession. Such rebellions were rare, however, and the royal family always managed to put aside its differences in the face of these would-be usurpers.
That was the situation in the kingdom for 894 years.
Why, at that point, did three of Jarot's heirs turn against centuries of tradition? Perhaps it was merely a matter of time. Since the founding of the Kingdom, the five nations had grown apart, with national pride and identity growing more pronounced with each century. Maybe it was an unfortunate conflict of strong personalities. Thalin of Thrane saw a chance to spread his faith; Kaius of Karrnath believed his sister lacked the strength to hold the throne; Wroann of Breland had long been an agent of change. All three may have acted on their own accord … but perhaps they were the pawns of darker forces with a vested interest in the fall of Galifar. The Dreaming Dark has always used discord as a weapon. The Lords of Dust
love chaos in all forms, and the Blood of Vol surely saw war as a way to increase its power in Karrnath. The full truth may never be known but the results are plain to see.
The conflict lasted far longer than the lives of the rulers that began it. Over the course of 102 years, the tides of war rose and fell. Alliances formed and collapsed. Nations were torn apart by civil strife and betrayal as Valenar, Darguun, and the Eldeen Reaches were born. Truces all were temporary, and never was there a time when all five nations were at peace; sooner or later the old conflicts would flare up again from the glowing coals of resentment. Only the utter destruction of Cyre brought all combatants to the table. In 996, the twelve nations of Khorvaire were recognized by the Treaty of Thronehold, and the Last War officially came to an end.
War in the World
The Last War is a central element of the Eberron Campaign Setting. The war lasted more than a century and it has been over for less than two years.
War Torn Lands
A century of war has taken its toll on Khorvaire. Any time a party travels near the borders of nations – the old front lines — the signs of conflict should be easy to see. Burnt-out villages are choked with ashes and weeds. Shattered bridges lay in heaps. Conductor stones that were torn out of the ground prevent use of the lightning rail. Magical scorch marks scar the earth. In larger communities, there may be signs of occupation or sorcerous attack. Bands of refugees seeking to rebuild their lives clog the roads or barely survive in squalid camps. Think about ways to drive this point home. Instead of a cheerful inn, the party may come upon a charred shell of a tavern, home to a ragged band of peasants who have turned to banditry to survive. Such brigands are no match for the adventurers, but is there any victory to be had from fighting them?
The largest monument to the war is the Mournland, which is now one vast dungeon. Its ruins are recent rather than ancient but it is still filled with the treasures of a nation, guarded by strange monsters and terrible magic.
The psychological effects of the war are more pervasive than the physical damage and can be felt across the continent. A general aura of pessimism grips the population. Beyond the horror of the war, the Mournland casts a pall across the psyche of Khorvaire. No one knows what caused the terrible destruction or even whether it could strike again. Some Khyber cults and druid sects believe the Mournland is the first sign of a coming apocalypse. This fear is coupled with suspicion and anger. King Kaius's signature on the Treaty of Thronehold means nothing to the former Karrn soldier whose family was slaughtered during a Thrane offensive. The people of Thrane hate Karrnath with a passion. Aundair has never forgiven the Eldeen Reaches. No one trusts the Valenar. A former soldier who advertises his allegiance may receive Hostile or Unfriendly reactions in enemy nations but there may be smaller touches as well. Perhaps the innkeeper lost his only daughter in the battle of Keldan Ridge, and he wants the Karrnish fighter in the party to remember her name. Revenge and greed can motivate many adventures, as the party investigates the murder of a former general or searches for weapon caches hidden on the border of the Mournland.
The destruction of Galifar created an immense power vacuum across Khorvaire. Some seek to seize this power, while others long for a sense of security that no longer flows from the crown. As a result, the influence of cults and conspiracies has grown tremendously. Even a seemingly simple village may harbor a cult of the Dragon Below or a cell of the Emerald Claw, while a town may contain a half-dozen competing factions. The campaign setting book describes a number of influential organizations but these are merely the beginning. Others could form around religious beliefs, military service, or shared blood. Royal courts are full of political intrigue. These organizations are spread much wider than people expect; everyone is looking for something to hold onto, and even the smallest thorp may be home to a secret society.
When creating a party, players should think about how the war affected their characters. Did they fight; if so, who for? Did they lose family and friends? Shared military experience can be a strong basis for an adventuring party, especially if the PCs fought for the nation of Cyre, which no longer exists. If you follow this path, you might consider running your first adventure as a "flashback" to the war. Playing out a particularly interesting or disturbing military mission can clearly establish the effect of the war on the world and set up allies or enemies that can appear in future adventures. This also allows PCs to enter the postwar world with a little experience under their belts.
The Mother of Invention
The warforged, the airship, undead troops, and the eternal wand were all developed as weapons of war, and these are only the beginning. Future articles will explore magical warfare in more detail; until then, enlarge upon your own ideas for weapons or spells that were developed for battle. What was House Cannith working on in its hidden think tanks in the Mournland? What terrible secrets are waiting to be discovered?
These are just a few examples of the impact of the war. As you develop adventures or character backgrounds, take a moment to think about how the war can be woven into your story!
The most important wartime preparations occur during the cessation of hostilities. War—the ultimate pursuit of a people—never entirely ends.
— Analects of War by Karrn the Conqueror
The empire of Galifar was finally and truly gone. What would replace it was up to the new nations birthed in the Last War. The blade of Galifar, soundly shattered, will most likely never be reforged.
Each of the Five Nations lost much, and none could point to truly meaningful gain from all the years of sacrifice and bloodshed. Still, each one appears to be laying the groundwork for the next great conflict. Whether such preparations precipitate a conflagration, as happened in the late 800s, or allow for a lasting peace depends on the lessons learned in the forge of war.
One hopes that the Last War taught all nations that continental bloodshed solves no problems. It is far easier to identify the losers of that great crisis than it is to claim any winners.
Karrnath began the war unified and strong. It had the greatest military tradition and the most renowned warriors. Its territorial losses in the war were minor compared to other nations, but the independence of the Mror Holds and the Talenta Plains did deprive it of significant resources. The most important change was in the nation’s soul. By abandoning itself, at least initially, to the Blood of Vol and the Order of the Emerald Claw, Karrnath bathed in necromancy. Its greatest triumphs on the battlefield did little to enhance its military tradition since they were, in part, due to massed undead and more often than not followed by horrific pillage and slaughter. Karrnath’s postwar challenge is to restore its honor.
Prewar Thrane boasted a massive population and an abundance of fertile land to support it. During the war, it claimed divine guidance through the Church of the Silver Flame. Tragically, its faith and its plenty inspired it to the summit of folly. The religious fervor that swept Keeper Serrain into power featured rigid intolerance and inspired absurd blood-soaked aggression. In the end, Keeper Daran has followed her predecessor in returning the church to strong but compassionate ideals. Still, Thrane’s war effort starkly shows the dark side of zealotry. Its actions, up to and including the rejection of Cyran refugees, have placed a gloom about the Silver Flame that might never be overcome.
Aundair was devastated by the war. More than half of its prewar territories were lost when the Eldeen Reaches seceded and Thrane took Thaliost. Conquests in Karrnath were erased by war’s end, and depredations in the south soiled its reputation. From a bright and shining example of spirit, skill, and mystical prowess, Aundair was beaten down until it was forced to rely in the main on intrigue and diplomacy. The addition of lands east of Lake Galifar are some comfort, but the nation knows that
its lack of natural resources render it outmatched in any war of attrition. Though it grieves and agitates for lost Thaliost, it can do little to redress this grievance.
Breland largely considered itself a land apart at the beginning of the war, and it maintained that attitude nearly throughout. Although a great champion of individual rights and national honor, Breland bestirred itself to action only infrequently, even in the face of depredations by the other nations. It also proved a poor ally, switching sides between Thrane and Cyre throughout the war. Most tragically, the war might have visited on King Boranel the affliction of his father—a broken heart. He grieves for his lost relations, and he cannot shake the thought that his army’s massive push against Cyre could have been the principal trigger of the Mourning. Given questions surrounding the aged King Boranel’s succession, Brelish isolation has again become fashionable.
As for the light and beauty of Cyre, all was lost. The shattered kingdom remains only as a hope and a dream in countless displaced refugees, scratching out a living in foreign lands. They are, at best, tolerated, and realize that they can find acceptance in their new homes only by abandoning their heritage. Unadulterated pride on the part of Cyre no doubt prolonged the war, raising continual fears about its monarch’s claim to the empire. Still, Cyre’s claims were no more outlandish than others, and bore the sanction of tradition. Moreover, Cyran actions during the war rarely dragged that nation’s honor through the mire, as was the case with many others. With so much lost and so little to call its own, Cyre is essentially ignored by the surviving nations in their games of politics and intrigue. That might ultimately prove their greatest mistake.