The Draconic Prophecy


A strange pattern appears on the wall of a deep cavern—a spiraling series of lines, vaguely reminiscent of Draconic characters.
A child is born to two full-blooded members of House Cannith, but even at birth she bears an aberrant dragonmark.
The moon Aryth eclipses Lharvion at the precise moment that the plane Thelanis becomes coterminous with Eberron.
When a dragon sage gathers all these facts, she nods. With a few words, she records her conclusions in the spellshard that lies before her. One more path to the future—one more piece of the draconic Prophecy—has been revealed.
The Prophecy is a core element of the EBERRON campaign setting. Dragon and fiend battle over its outcome. It might call for a reluctant adventurer to take on the mantle of hero—or it might warn of dire consequences if adventurers slay a hated foe.
But what is the draconic Prophecy? And what are effective ways to use it in a campaign?

Source and Purpose

None can question the power of the draconic Prophecy. Its power as a tool of divination has been proven time and again. But philosophers and sages—human and dragon, celestial and fiend—have long debated the source of its power. How can the paths of the future be mapped out on stone and sky? Is this proof of divine intervention… or does such a concrete cosmic plan defy the existence of free-willed gods?
Tens of thousands of years of debate and divination have produced no clear answers. Here are a few of the popular theories; only the DM can decide if any of these are true.
• The Prophecy is a reflection of the ongoing struggle between Khyber and Eberron. The Progenitors shaped reality at the beginning of time, and the Prophecy reflects their divergent desires for their creation. This is the central belief of the dragon religion Thir.
• The Prophecy is the work of the dragon deity Chronepsis, master of fate. The core doctrine of Thir says that Chronepsis is the scribe of the Progenitors. However, certain dragons believe that Chronepsis alone chooses the path of the Prophecy.
• The Prophecy is the creation of Aureon, Sovereign of Law and Lore. This is the popular theory of followers of the Sovereign Host. The doctrine of Thir acknowledges Aureon—Ourelonastrix—as the first prophet, but not as the creator of the Prophecy.
• The Prophecy is a divine force, not unlike the Silver Flame. It draws its power from all living beings. It is shaped by their desires, and it channels their wants. This is how it can predict the future, because it influences people to act in accordance with its predictions.
• Each of the thirteen Outer Planes has an underlying consciousness. Eberron is where the planes converge, and the Prophecy is the result of the debate between these planar voices.
• The Prophecy is the ultimate source of magical energy. Magic has the power to reshape reality, and the draconic Prophecy is the ultimate expression of this. Even those who agree on the nature of the Prophecy argue about its purpose. For much of the history of Argonnessen, the followers of Thir have held to the belief that the Prophecy is the record of creation, and that the purpose of the dragons is to watch and record until creation runs its course. This means they can prevent others from tampering with the course of destiny, but should not manipulate it themselves.
The dragons of the Chamber counter that Ourelonastrix and Hezcalipa used their knowledge of the Prophecy to defeat the Overlords in the Age of Demons. These dragons claim that the Prophecy is a tool, a gift to allow those wise enough to read it some control over the future. In their view, dragons should be on guard against other forces who seek to control this power. The Lords of Dust have always sought to use the Prophecy as a weapon against their foes. The elves of the Undying Court have unraveled many of its mysteries. Now, some among the lesser nondragons seek to use the Prophecy as a tool, if they can only master its secrets.
Ultimately, the Dungeon Master must decide if mortals are meant to tamper with the Prophecy. The consequences of this decision are explored below.

The Nature of The Prophecy

The draconic Prophecy has existed since the dawn of time. Dragons and demons have sought its power. But what is the Prophecy? What form does it take? How can people fight over its outcome? And how can an infallible prophecy work in a game that is, ultimately, defined by player choices?
The key is that the draconic Prophecy is a living thing. It has never been fully recorded because it is constantly growing and evolving. The Prophecy is a map showing many paths that the future might take, and revealing dependencies. Consider the following:
If the King of Breland is assassinated on the day of the gargoyle’s first victory, there will be war in the west. If there is war between Droaam and Breland, and if the last child of the storm faces the three daughters, the first hag will return.
This is the nature of the Prophecy. It is a web that is constantly unfolding, and the future is formed by threads from thousands of evolving events. This is how the Chamber and the Lords of Dust use the Prophecy as a weapon. Find an outcome you desire, then trace back the path of events that will make it happen. If the Lords of Dust want Sora Kell to return, they must see to it that King Boranel is slain on the same day that Carralag the gargoyle wins the Race of Eight Winds in Sharn. This will lead to war… and that paves the way for the next convergence they wish to control. Meanwhile, if the Chamber can prevent Carralag’s victory or Boranel’s death, it has staved off this fate … though it might have set another path in motion. This is the trick to dealing with the Lords of Dust and the Chamber; both groups are often working toward long-term goals that can’t even be seen without the use of the Prophecy. The Chamber might help stop a massacre, or it might cause a massacre—in either case the dragons care nothing about the victims. They are concerned only with the chain of events that are set in motion, and it might take years, decades, or longer for matters to play out.

Form of the Prophecy

Typically, adventurers encounter the Prophecy in one of three ways.
Signs and Portents: A convergence of moons and planes. A symbol revealed by an earthquake. Three dragonmarked heirs slain by fire. These are some of the ways in which the Prophecy is made manifest. But taken alone, none of these manifestations have meaning. It’s like glancing at tea leaves or seeing two crows on a dead oak tree—without proper training, the omen cannot be interpreted. And the draconic Prophecy is far more complex than tea leaves or tarot cards. In the examples given above, all three of the events could be linked together. Moon, rune, and deaths are all pieces of the puzzle, and knowledge of past events might be just as crucial to success. Most creatures require decades to learn to interpret the simplest signs of the Prophecy,
and it takes centuries to truly understand it. Even among the long-lived dragons, few have the patience and intelligence required to become true prophets. As such, adventurers rarely find a piece of the Prophecy that they can interpret on their own; instead, they need to find someone who can help them understand its meaning.
In the past, the symbols that appeared on the earth were called dragonmarks. These days, they are usually called Prophecy marks. The design of these marks is quite similar to those found on flesh, but every mark is different; each line has meaning to one who knows how to read them. If a character who speaks Draconic makes a DC 30 Spellcraft check, she gains a hint about the meaning of a mark, to a maximum of five words. For example, she might recognize the concepts of “king,” “victory,” and “moving stone.” Although interesting, this hint rarely provides full meaning, and might actually be misleading.
A small Prophecy mark might be the size of a human fist. The largest marks are so big that they can be seen properly only from a great height. All marks radiate a strong aura of universal magic and occasionally shimmer with a blue-green radiance similar to the color of dragonmarks. Prophecy marks slowly repair themselves if damaged. It’s possible to remove a small mark whole, but if a mark is simply damaged, it eventually re-forms.
The true nature of Prophecy marks is as mysterious as the Prophecy itself. In Xen’drik, explorers have found eldritch machines from the Age of Giants that seem to use Prophecy marks as a source of power, and many forces in Khorvaire—notably House Cannith, the Twelve, and the elemental binders of Zilargo—are working to unlock this secret.
Translations: A Prophecy mark on a cavern wall won’t provide much insight into the Prophecy. The personal notes of a dragon scholar who has spent centuries collecting pieces of the Prophecy? That’s another matter. The challenge for humans is that dragons typically use spellshards (ECS 265) to record knowledge. A spellshard formed for a dragon is the size of a small boulder. Some dragons prefer to carve their thoughts in stone; many lairs have a chamber of words, and adventurers could find insights about the Prophecy written there. Although few mortal nondragons have truly mastered the draconic Prophecy, a number of sages have studied it, and collected the writings of dragon prophets. Adventurers might find useful translations in the journal of, say, a dead cataclysm mage (EH 58).
The dragons of Argonnessen have created many records about the Prophecy. A translation could simply record events of the past—the shape the Prophecy finally took—but even this can be an important tool for interpreting future signs. Some records reveal possibilities—multiple paths that the future can take, depending on what events come to pass. Other dragon writings focus on a single chain of possibility—the path that the writers are working to achieve.
The precise form of these writings varies based on the author. A translation of the Prophecy could take the form of poetry, a formal treatise, or a few cryptic words. It has meaning to the author, but it might still puzzle the random reader.
Prophets: The simplest way to read meaning into the Prophecy is to know someone who can read its signs. The role of the dragon prophet has already been discussed, but other options exist. A deathless elf or disguised rakshasa could offer insight into a path of the Prophecy. A scholar might piece together a translation—imperfect, but something to work with. Or a dragonmarked character could have a sudden and vivid prophetic dream. A gift of Chronepsis? Insight fl owing directly from the source of the Prophecy and through his dragonmark? Or part of a devious quori scheme?

The Prophecy As an Adventure Hook

Having considered the origin of the Prophecy and the forms it takes, a question remains. Why use it? What does it bring to an adventure?
Destiny: The draconic Prophecy is one way to establish certain adventurers as people who have a special destiny. The fact that player characters possess action points already suggests that they are favored by fate; the Prophecy can take this a step farther, cementing the fact that they are the only ones who can accomplish certain tasks. This helps even low-level adventurers stand out in the world. They might not be ready to take on the tarrasque now, but they know that some day, they are destined to battle it.
Control: The Prophecy is a tool that holds mighty forces in check. Both the Lords of Dust and the dragons of Argonnessen possess power that dwarfs that of most adventurers. But their knowledge of the Prophecy handicaps them in many ways. For example, the Prophecy could reveal that if the dragons defeat the Dreaming Dark, Tiamat will be released; but if the adventurers accomplish the same task, the Daughter of Tiamat will remain bound for another thousand years.
Choice: The Prophecy can be a tool to help the Dungeon Master choose the direction of a campaign. A prophet seeks out the adventurers and reveals that they are at a crossroads of fate. If they follow one path, war arises between Droaam and Breland. If they take the other path, they discover a lost kingdom in Xen’drik, and one among them dons a crown. So … do the players want a war campaign? Or an extended adventure in Xen’drik? The prophet doesn’t tell them how events will play out—who will wear a crown, or if they will all live or die—but she gives them the opportunity to pick a direction for future adventures.
Battling Fate: Another possible path for a campaign is to reveal a piece of the Prophecy that the adventurers want to prevent from coming to pass. A warrior is destined to kill the one he loves the most. A wizard will unlock the secret of the Mourning … and destroy the Five Nations. Is it possible to avoid this fate? Or will the adventurers’ attempts to change their destinies actually
be the cause of their undoing?
In working with prophecy, ambiguity is a powerful tool. An adventurer will wear a crown … but does this mean he will rule a kingdom, or could it be a cursed crown that will give an undead spirit possession of his body? Likewise, a DM could rely on cryptic titles instead of being obvious from the start. The Prophecy might mention the “child of the crimson storm” … but it could take time to prove that this is in fact the Lyrandar heir in the party.

Prophetic Signs

Here are several ways the draconic Prophecy could enter a campaign.
• An adventurer finds a spellshard journal that has rough details of his own past and future accomplishments, including finding the shard. Who wrote it? Will the PC try to follow the path it lays out, or create a new future?
• The party finds a dead man clutching a basalt disk, lying next to the corpse of a rakshasa. The stone holds a Prophecy mark, and agents of the Talons of Tiamat, the Chamber, and the Undying Court are all searching for it.
• A dragon prophet presents an adventurer with a magic sword. It’s prophesied that the adventurer will fight a champion of darkness hidden somewhere in the city; she has one day to find and defeat him, or she will surely die.
• Adventurers encounter a wizard building an eldritch machine over a large Prophecy mark. The mark has taken on the appearance of an aberrant dragonmark. Is this an innocent experiment, or the first step in a terrible plan?
• An attack by an overwhelming enemy force drives adventurers into a network of caves—a dragon’s lair that has been abandoned for thousands of years. Engravings on a cavern wall include the dragon’s notes on the Prophecy … including cryptic clues that could help the adventurers defeat the enemy hunting them.
• The vault of the Grand Library of Metrol is rumored to hold a copy of the Silaxerus Shard, one of the most complete records of the Prophecy in human hands. Agents of the Chamber want to destroy it. The Library of Korranberg, the Twelve, and Arcanix want to steal it. Prince Oargev wants it returned to Cyran hands. Whom will the adventurers help? And what if the Lords of Dust have already stolen the shard and replaced it with a counterfeit designed to mislead?

Inception of the Dragon Prophets

Overtures were made to specific individuals the dragons had observed for some time. Some bore dragonmarks themselves, but most did not. The individuals in question were all of an arcane bent, much like dragons themselves, and they were tasked with being the eyes and ears of their draconic masters, seeking signs of the Prophecy and occasionally acting on behalf of the dragons in causes in which the dragons were interested. In every case, these individuals acted to further the dragons’ understanding of the Prophecy. In the process, they gained some insight into its mysteries themselves and began to manifest strange new abilities reminiscent of the great dragon deities. These individuals collectively came to be known as dragon prophets (see page 63 for information on the dragon prophet prestige class).
The dragon prophets have learned much from their draconic mentors (or masters, depending on the specific relationship involved), many dealing directly with a greater understanding of the draconic Prophecy. These abilities focus on the insight of the complex Prophecy, as well as a greater understanding of the world at large. As a prophet gains more of a grasp on the Prophecy, she begins to see everything around her in a different light. Many find themselves able to predict the future, while others simply become more aware of their surroundings.

Dragonshards and The Prophecy

The dragons of Argonnessen are convinced that dragonshards are essential to understanding the Prophecy. The dragons read the true meaning of the marks within the shards, and realize that some marks are only truly understood when combined with or exposed to other marks.
Eberron shards, in particular, seem responsible for the manifestation of dragonmarks on the humans, elves, and other races of Khorvaire. Many sages believe that the dragonmarks were brought about due to long exposure, over many generations, to the Eberron dragonshards that lie just beneath the ground. Of course, those sages are unable to explain why no dragonmarks manifested among the orcs of the Eldeen Reaches or the goblinoids of the great Empire of Dhakaan during the millennia that passed before human, elf, and dwarf colonization.
Many dragons spend every night for centuries looking up at the Ring of Siberys. The ring shifts subtly over time, as some of the dragonshards that comprise the ring fall to Eberron as Siberys showers. The dragons feel that signs and portents from the ring represent omens from the spirit of Siberys, guiding the dragons so that they can be prepared if the spawn of Khyber once again emerge to dominate the world.
Tales are told of great Khyber caverns, whose walls are covered in markings of all sorts, and yet those markings shift and fluctuate if a strongly attuned dragonshard is carried through the cavern. Some of the markings seem to shirk away from Eberron shards, yet they crowd toward a powerful Khyber shard. The effect is subtle, however, and only those possessing the great patience and attention of the dragons can truly appreciate these mark manifestations. Only the dragons and those versed in the Prophecy, such as dragon prophets, can gain any insight from the sigils deep within Khyber.
A few nondragons have been exposed to slivers of the Prophecy. Some deranged Dragon Below cultists who worship Khyber, the progenitor wyrm, believe that Khyber dragonshards bind the ancient dragon within the depths of the world. These cultists strive to remove or destroy Khyber shards through magical rituals designed to break the binding forces. Still another cult faction believes that the dragonshards represent the physical form of the dragon itself. These cultists are convinced that if a large enough concentration of Khyber dragonshards were collected, Khyber could find the strength to rise again. These cultists have amassed secret caches consisting of tens or hundreds of Khyber shards.
Other, more scholarly types have suggested that the dragonmarks represent the dragon Eberron expressing its will through the dragonmarked races—races Eberron has chosen. What the races have been chosen for is unclear. Perhaps a cataclysmic showdown is inevitable, with the dragonmarked races battling the aberrations, fiends, and other forces of Khyber, as well as the dragons, the chosen of Siberys. This theory is but one of many regarding the relationship of dragonshards with the Prophecy.

Source: Dragons of Eberron

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