Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

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Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 2:16 pm

Unearthed Arcana: Eberron includes the feat-based Dragonmark system that Wizards experimented with. I don't think this system is terrible, but there are a few key issues I have with it.

1. It requires use of the optional feat system. I have no problem using feats. I like feats. I include them in my games. But I don't feel like a staple of a setting should be excluded from a game because the system isn't standard.

2. Even assuming you use the feat system, no one can have a dragonmark at 1st level... unless you're a human using the starting feat variant. Most dragonmarks are obtained around puberty, during a time of emotional crisis (hello, Test of Siberys). I would suspect that the majority of characters wanting to have a dragonmark would be well beyond the age they normally acquire one.

3. Drow can have dragonmarks. In 3.X, Drow were considered a distinctly different race from Elves. They shared roots and similarities, but they were, mechanically, a different race. As such, they were not eligible to have the elven dragonmarks. In 5E, however, Drow are an Elf subrace, meaning they would qualify for dragonmarks. Is this a bad thing? I don't know. While there's never been a dragonmarked drow in canon that I know of (please correct me if I'm wrong), I don't see anything fundamentally wrong with this. It's still a change from their previous operation and I felt it should be mentioned.

So I'm looking to homebrew some Dragonmarks. Here's some things I've considered:

Subraces - I find subraces appealing for dragonmarks. It serves to ensure that only specific races have access to dragonmarks and, specifically, that Drow can't take dragonmarks (again, not certain this is necessary). It also allows the dragonmarks to be obtained immediately at character creation. The problems here are threefold, however. Subrace dragonmarks would then limit dragonmarks to only being taken at first level. You wouldn't be able to get a dragonmark later in life. While this situation is rare in canon, it's not unheard of and shouldn't be limited. Additionally, it makes dragonmark subraces distinct from others. A Rock Gnome couldn't have the Mark of Scribing, for example. There's a part of me that thinks this is how it should be, because I don't like players taking a dragonmark just for the mechanics instead of story... but I'm not sure that option should be completely restricted because of my bias. Lastly, this method doesn't take into account races that don't have subraces. Half-orcs with the Mark of Finding? Race = Base + Sub. That's the formula in 5E, essentially. If a Base race doens't have a subrace, then it is mechanically balanced to be equivalent to a race that has a base and sub. Half-Orcs are balanced against Drow and Mountain Dwarves, not against a Base Elf or Base Dwarf. To make dragonmarks a subrace would either add power to a balanced race or would require the base race to be altered... leading me to the next option...

Variant Races - Much like the Variant Human that gets a bonus feat, you can make a set of variant dragonmarked races. The problem here is that dragonmarks really are additions to a race. A human with the Mark of Making isn't a different human, it's a human that can do more than normal. This method allows some more customization, however, in that you could have a Variant Mark of Shadow Elf with the High Elf (or even Drow) subrace. It carries some of the same pitfalls as subraces, though, like relegating dragonmarks to first level characters. It would also require an overhaul of many 5E races, which is not something I feel a campaign setting should have to do. AvonRekaes has a number of excellent 5E Homebrew PC races for Eberron, covering even the standard races, but my analysis of dragonmarks does not take these into account. I do not want to alter the standard 5E system altogether that much to accomodate dragonmarks.

Backgrounds - People have suggested this before and I'm including it here for the sake of completion. This is a bad idea. It is, again, a character creation option only and just doesn't represent the same mechanical benefits as a race or subrace trait would provide. Backgrounds are, however, a fantastic idea for the Dragonmarked Houses. You can be in the houses without having a dragonmark and being in the house gives you socio-economic benefits more than anything else. That just screams Background.

None of the options above are the best way to handle this. Feats look pretty good... except you can't take a dragonmark at first level unless you're human. So where does that leave us? Well, it means dragonmarks just won't fit into pre-existing mechanics. It just isn't going to happen. We need something else. They need to be able to be taken at first level. They also need to be able to be taken at later levels. They also need to progress in power. I'm going to propose a system similar to feats, but that allows first-level dragonmarks.

Ability Scores - In the feat-based system, you can choose a feat in place of an ability score increase. We keep that for dragonmarks. We introduce dragonmarks like feats. It's a choice you make when you could increase an ability score, only we also allow it at first level. My suggestion: to take a dragonmark at first level, you reduce your ability score increases by any two points. Every race gets ability score increases at first level of at least two points (normal humans get 6, one for each score). Every character will also get ability score increases as they level up. This opens up the option of obtaining a dragonmark from the start or gaining it later. Like feats, it requires an equivalent sacrifice of mechanical power.

In this system, I would also make dragonmarks more staged again, like in 3.5 instead of the single feat that is used in Unearthed Arcana. Dragonmarked was one of my favorite sourcebooks, mechanically, of all the Eberron books. It gave you a wealth of Dragonmark options that I think would be good to explore in a 5E system. Have a Least, Lesser, and Greater option with other choices for dragonmark abilities as well (like the Prodigy, Visionary, etc. feats). In this way, they are very similar to feats and, really, you could have the same effects by saying "you can take a feat at first level by sacrificing two points from your racial ability score improvements". Sure, that works, too, but it alters the default rules instead of adding a new system for Eberron. I think having a Dragonmark system is the better choice.

Now, you may notice there is one rather large, glaring hole in this method. What about Siberys marks? That's an excellent question. A 9th level spell, even once per day, is kind of powerful. I'm not certain how to fit it into the system properly. I do not think Siberys marks should be a natural evolution following the Greater marks. I don't buy that. They always have been a very powerful mark that appeared in whole. It's also something that can't be taken at first level. I could maybe see it being a mark that, once taken, reduces all your future ability score adjustments by 1 to compensate for the power gained. But something about that doesn't sit right with me. It's something I'll continue to think about.

So I brought up the Dragonmarked sourcebook and my love for it. Once I determine how I want to handle Dragonmarks in 5E, I think I would like to expand Dragonmark options available to classes. Perhaps a Dragonmarked Sorcerous Origin, or Blade of Orien Martial Archetype, or other things.

What are your thoughts on all this?

EDIT 1: In retrospect, I think Drow were just an Elf subrace in 3.5... so they probably could have dragonmarks even back then.

EDIT 2: Actually, the internet seems particularly torn on this matter. I still think Drow probably shouldn't have marks. This is then a real problem if the ability score system is used and Drow are the only subrace banned from having a dragonmark... so they should probably be allowed, if noted that this is rather unheard of (or has, perhaps, been well-hidden by Phiarlan/Thuranni).

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri Oct 09, 2015 2:40 pm

I was actually going to tackle Dragonmarks as soon as I got finished with the races. Here's what I'm currently thinking.

Take a look at the Skilled feat. It grants you three skill/tool proficiencies. Ergo, three tool/skill proficiencies = a feat.I plan on letting people take a Dragonmark feat in place of three proficiencies their background gives them. Then I plan on making a Favored in the House background that will provide a background benefit separate from dragonmarks.

EDIT: As per drow, no they cannot have Dragonmarks. Even in 3.5, the dragonmarks weren't just limited by race, but by bloodline. Only elves of a specific group of families developed dragonmarks, and none of those families were Drow. I think the "confusion" was because the mark of "shadow" seemed to "fit" the "theme" of "dark" elves. But drow didn't need a dragonmark, they already had ingrained spell-like abilities in 3.5.

I headed this off at the pass, though, and I made drow their own entire race with their own subraces, specifically to avoid this issue. Dragonmarks only appeared on Khorvarian families of the 3.5 PHB races. No exceptions.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 2:51 pm

For me, I see a couple problems with that. Removing those proficiencies from the background kind of defeats the purpose of the background. I mean, those proficiencies are meant to represent things you've gained via culture/vocation/life. I feel like dragonmarks are outside the purview of backgrounds, even outside of swapping proficiencies. Second, not all background have three proficiencies. Acolytes, for example, only get two (they have no Tool Proficiencies). And then what about characters that don't want a dragonmark at character creation? Do they give up their proficiencies later in their career? That seems a little unfair from a player perspective.

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri Oct 09, 2015 3:02 pm

Thought about the language, and I believe the extra language is supposed to be mechanically equal to a tool proficiency. I see no other explanation for Acolyte granting the exact same number of languages as other backgrounds give tool proficiencies.. Therefore the rule is "At character creation, you can substitute three of proficiencies or languages, in any combination, granted by your background to take the Dragonmarked feat."

Also to me the "point" of a background is the Background Benefit. This is a rp-encouraging ability, and the rest of the background establishes your bonds and flaws. This means you can be a Sailor with access to a ship, a sailor's roleplay traits, a skill or tool proficiency related to sailing, and the Mark of Storm. This sounds like a solid background to me.

Also, for clarity, you can take the Dragonmarked Feat later in your career by giving up Ability Score increases as normal.

Your system works fine, too. We're basically coming at it with the same thought in mind, finding a feat-equivalency at character creation that can be switched for the dragonmark. I just... hm. I think it's more reasonable to say "Being a sailor with the Mark of Storm, you relied on your mark to see you through more problems and developed less proficiencies because of it" than "Being an Elf with the Mark of Shadow, you're less physically agile than other elves."

EDIT: Looking at the Dragonmarked feat from the UA article, I think I may want to alter it so that you gain only one of the Least spells, and also a skill proficiency. This would be closer to the 3.5 rules for Dragonmarks, which gave you one spell-like ability and a skill bonus. It would also alleviate some of the regrettable "unskilled" connotations of the proficiency-swap.

Also, agreed, Siberys marks should be something entirely different. I stick to my guns that the Siberys marks are mutually exclusive to the least/lesser/greater ones. If you take a look at the original designs of the dragonmarks, notice how the Siberys marks have an ABSENCE in the shape of the least mark at their center. They literally do not have that mark in themselves. I like keeping that little nugget of setting detail.

I would make Siberys marks a prestige class once again, like the one from the new UA article. Have a prerequisite level of 11th or 12th.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 3:52 pm

AvonRekaes wrote:EDIT: As per drow, no they cannot have Dragonmarks. Even in 3.5, the dragonmarks weren't just limited by race, but by bloodline. Only elves of a specific group of families developed dragonmarks, and none of those families were Drow. I think the "confusion" was because the mark of "shadow" seemed to "fit" the "theme" of "dark" elves. But drow didn't need a dragonmark, they already had ingrained spell-like abilities in 3.5.

I headed this off at the pass, though, and I made drow their own entire race with their own subraces, specifically to avoid this issue. Dragonmarks only appeared on Khorvarian families of the 3.5 PHB races. No exceptions.
So... I was reading all about this and here's the thing: mechanically, they're based on race and whether or not a Drow counts as an Elf is a grey area. That's what matters. Can a Phiarlan Elf breed with a Drow and produce a Drow? I don't know. But if it can, then you've got a drow with a family tie to Phiarlan. Could a Drow that's been to the Altar of the Dragon's Eye (Eyes of the Lich Queen adventure) receive a Mark of Shadow? I don't know. There is nothing in the ECS that states Drow explicitly can't have a mark. It denotes that Elves have access to the Mark of Shadow. In the 3.5 Monster Manual, Drow are listed as an Elf subrace. Sure, they're not standard player character races, but that doesn't really matter to RAW. Sure, Half-Elves are listed as a specific race that can get the Mark of Storm, so one might infer that subraces in 3.5 were distinct enough that Drow don't count, but an inferrence is not evidence. It's RAI. Again, I wouldn't have a Drow with a mark unless I wanted to explore such an earth-shaking event, but there are always players that look at the rules and want to know why they can't have X. Also, you don't mean only Khorvairian families. The Mark of Shadow and Mark of Death came from Aereni families.

As for backgrounds, it still feels like any mechanics from backgrounds shouldn't really be sacrificed for a Mark's benefits. Yes, the Feature is the meat and potatoes of a background, but Proficiencies are important. They allow extra freedoms and customization. Essentially, they are mechanical incentives to flesh out roleplaying. Languages are more clearly related to RP than to mechanics, even if backgrounds appear to balance them with Tool Proficiencies. Let's continue to use the Acolyte as an example. We've got a Half-Orc Barbarian. She used to live in the Shadow Marches and was a devout Gatekeeper, studying the traditions since she was a child. In her early years, she manifested the Mark of Finding, but didn't join House Tharashk. She later left her home to combat a growing Daelkyr threat and was unable to continue her studies, but the House offered her a place in their organization and she joins because of their resources. Acolyte is a wonderful background for her that provides her with Insight and Religion. As a Barbarian, she doesn't get these. If she has to remove proficiencies from Acolyte, she could drop two languages and one skill. She gets either Religion or Insight, but can't make up the other one with her class. She could take a feat... but feats are optional and she won't get one until 4th level at the earliest.

Balance is a tricky factor, too. Yes, the Skilled feat grants three proficiencies. Feats can be taken when you would normally get two ability score increases. So 3 proficiencies = 2 ability score points? So 1.5 proficiencies = 1 ability score point. The Lightly Armored Feat has a +1 STR/DEX and Light Armor Proficiency. By our previous formula, that feat is worth 2.5 proficiencies instead of 3. The same goes for Heavily Armored. Okay, so an armor proficiency is worth more than a skill or tool? Well... what about Moderately Armored? +1 STR/DEX, Medium Armor proficiency and Shield proficiency. Shoot. Either Armor proficienct is worth more than other proficiencies and shields are worth nothing, or the feats can't be compared 1:1. I guarantee you, it's the latter. It seems to me, that if Dragonmarks can be obtained by sacrificing ability score increases later in the game, the only true equivalent at first level is to sacrifice ability score increases of an equal value. Something else could very well work, even your system, but it seems like a good guess instead of a direct mechanical translation.

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:45 pm

I agree balance is a tricky thing. It's an art, not a science. The Linguist feat gives you an Ability Increase, 3 languages, and the ability to make secret codes. So we can surmise that 3 languages and encryption is worth half a feat. Skilled is 3 proficiencies, so does that mean 1.5 proficiencies is 3 languages + encryption?

This blows the "1 language = 1 proficiency" supposition out of the water, so... now we have to question why the Acolyte is an "underpowered" background? It trades proficiencies for languages at a worse exchange rate than the feat. Do we change it? Or do we just say that there's wiggle room, and leave it at that.

If we accept that even RAW doesn't have consistent exchange rates between mechanical elements, then we are left to judge for ourselves what is broken or not, and what makes the most sense for your world.

I stand by my option that perhaps your Half-Orc with the Mark of Finding would rely on her mark to get her through more situations than a non-marked acolyte, and maybe didn't need to be as good at reading people for information, so she only has Religion as her proficiency from Acolyte. This is the one option out of four that she feels is the most important to her time as a gatekeeper initiate.

Your comment " it still feels like any mechanics from backgrounds shouldn't really be sacrificed for a Mark's benefits" I fundamentally disagree with. Don't think about mechanics for a moment, or game terms. Forget that "Background" is a defined game element from the PHB and just think in common English terms. This Half-Orc barbarian. What's her background? Her background is that she was raised by Gatekeepers and developed a Mark early in life.

Now lets bring mechanics back into it. Why exactly, should the Mark not be mechanically represented by her Background? The mark has mechanical elements, which need to be represented, and they need to come from somewhere. And since they are mechanical elements represented by a part of your background, I think the logical place for them is to share space with Background.

Yes, they are tied to a race, but they have never, and I think shouldn't, cost that race anything. Dragonmarks are not a curse that stunts your core abilities. Phiarlan acrobats are just as innately nimble as any elf. Cannith artificers are just as versatile as any human. Dashing Lyrander skycaptains just as charming as any half-elf. By making the trade-off come from the inherent abilities of the race, you are saying the opposite. You are saying that Sivis scribes aren't as smart, Kundarak dwarves aren't as tough, and Deneith humans aren't as adaptable as they could be. As those unburdened by Dragonmarks are.

At higher levels, substituting ability score increases for feats is just how the system goes . It's what we have to work with, and usually makes sense. It's implicitly a function of training, not inherent genetics or cultural disposition. But your starting ajustments are inherent to your race. They do not represent something as mutable as your background.

Even though some subraces, even ones I've written, are more representative of cultural influence than genetics, the society in which you live is not as subject to change as your own personal choices. ALL Tairnadal elves, to use a subrace I wrote, have a bonus to Strength, whether you are a druid acolyte, a rogue scoundrel, or a ranger outlander. This is because the influence of Tairnadal culture has ingrained values and a lifestyle into you regardless of your personal experiences. Developing a dragonmark doesn't change those influences either, or at the very least, I don't agree that it should.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 7:00 pm

AvonRekaes wrote:I stand by my option that perhaps your Half-Orc with the Mark of Finding would rely on her mark to get her through more situations than a non-marked acolyte, and maybe didn't need to be as good at reading people for information, so she only has Religion as her proficiency from Acolyte. This is the one option out of four that she feels is the most important to her time as a gatekeeper initiate.

Your comment " it still feels like any mechanics from backgrounds shouldn't really be sacrificed for a Mark's benefits" I fundamentally disagree with. Don't think about mechanics for a moment, or game terms. Forget that "Background" is a defined game element from the PHB and just think in common English terms. This Half-Orc barbarian. What's her background? Her background is that she was raised by Gatekeepers and developed a Mark early in life.

Now lets bring mechanics back into it. Why exactly, should the Mark not be mechanically represented by her Background? The mark has mechanical elements, which need to be represented, and they need to come from somewhere. And since they are mechanical elements represented by a part of your background, I think the logical place for them is to share space with Background.
So here's my question, then. Take this Half-Orc and copy her to Version 2. The second Half-Orc has an identical backstory... except she didn't have her mark until she left the Marches. Mechanically speaking, why should version 2 have to sacrifice something different from Version 1? The Version 1 Half-Orc didn't use her Mark in her backstory. She had it, but it played no role in her life. You an I, as DMs might think that's strange. We might say to the player "are you sure you want to do that?" but we can't tell them "you can't choose to have the mark since you were a child and have it not affect your life". That's not our place. The player can make whatever backstory they want. If they want the mark, but don't want it affecting their actions in life, well, they can do that. But if it mechanically affects their background, that's the rules saying "If you have a mark at the start of your character development, we're going to force you to give up something you won't have to by taking the mark later". Does that really seem fair?
AvonRekaes wrote:Yes, they are tied to a race, but they have never, and I think shouldn't, cost that race anything. Dragonmarks are not a curse that stunts your core abilities. Phiarlan acrobats are just as innately nimble as any elf. Cannith artificers are just as versatile as any human. Dashing Lyrander skycaptains just as charming as any half-elf. By making the trade-off come from the inherent abilities of the race, you are saying the opposite. You are saying that Sivis scribes aren't as smart, Kundarak dwarves aren't as tough, and Deneith humans aren't as adaptable as they could be. As those unburdened by Dragonmarks are.

At higher levels, substituting ability score increases for feats is just how the system goes . It's what we have to work with, and usually makes sense. It's implicitly a function of training, not inherent genetics or cultural disposition. But your starting ajustments are inherent to your race. They do not represent something as mutable as your background.

Even though some subraces, even ones I've written, are more representative of cultural influence than genetics, the society in which you live is not as subject to change as your own personal choices. ALL Tairnadal elves, to use a subrace I wrote, have a bonus to Strength, whether you are a druid acolyte, a rogue scoundrel, or a ranger outlander. This is because the influence of Tairnadal culture has ingrained values and a lifestyle into you regardless of your personal experiences. Developing a dragonmark doesn't change those influences either, or at the very least, I don't agree that it should.
You make a good point. This isn't something I had really considered. I definitely agree that it shouldn't take something away from races, it should really only add to it. Which now leads me to the thought that neither backgrounds nor ability score adjustments are the proper place for dragonmarks. Hm. I have a crazy random idea.

Inspiration - For Eberron, and Eberron only, we add a new layer to character creation. Everyone gets a unique Inspiration-based ability that they get to choose. This idea stems from the 5E Ravenloft conversion made by Jester over at the Fraternity of Shadows. He introduced a mechanic called "Dark Shadows". Each one had a minor mechanical benefit that "provides an additional use for inspiration that you can use instead of gaining advantage." There could easily be one for each Mark with a benefit pertaining to some fundamental ability of the mark, like those skill-related benefits from 3.5 or just a cantrip. There would, of course, be non-Dragonmark uses for these unique Inspiration-based traits. Let me try my hand at a super quick example.

Inspiration: Mark of Making
You can spend your inspiration to gain the mending cantrip for 10 minutes. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for this cantrip. Alternatively, you can spend your inspiration to gain proficiency in the Arcana skill for 1 minute. If already proficient, you instead double your proficiency bonus.

Feat: Least Dragonmark (Mark of Making)
Vou learn the Identify spell and can cast it at its lowest leveI. Once you cast it, you must finish a long rest before you can cast it again. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for this spell. In addition, you gain the Mark of Making trait. If you already have this trait, once per long rest, you can use this trait without spending inspiration.

I... really like this. Okay, hear me out. It adds on to a character instead of removing or changing anything. It allows a character to have a Mark without having to invest a whole feat, but doesn't give them more than a cantrip and some skill-based abilities if they don't. They can have it at first level. They can gain it at later levels. It doesn't force them to incorporate it into their background if they start with it. On top of that, inspiration-based traits can be expanded to a number of other traits based on region, culture, or occupation given how minor their benefits are. 5E's standard Inspiration system always seemed like Action Points to me and I really never felt that adding Action Points on top of Inspiration made much sense. New Inspiration-based traits might make a character feel more special and, more uniquely epic, which is really what we're shooting for in Eberron, right?

So. What do you think?

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:09 pm

enderxenocide0 wrote:So here's my question, then. Take this Half-Orc and copy her to Version 2. The second Half-Orc has an identical backstory... except she didn't have her mark until she left the Marches. Mechanically speaking, why should version 2 have to sacrifice something different from Version 1? The Version 1 Half-Orc didn't use her Mark in her backstory. She had it, but it played no role in her life. You an I, as DMs might think that's strange. We might say to the player "are you sure you want to do that?" but we can't tell them "you can't choose to have the mark since you were a child and have it not affect your life". That's not our place. The player can make whatever backstory they want. If they want the mark, but don't want it affecting their actions in life, well, they can do that. But if it mechanically affects their background, that's the rules saying "If you have a mark at the start of your character development, we're going to force you to give up something you won't have to by taking the mark later". Does that really seem fair?
Yes. You are giving up something no matter what. You either give up proficiencies at the start, or you give up ability score increases later. You have to buy the ability to cast spells innately somehow. If you delay your attaining the dragonmark later, you can focus more on skills and capabilities that you picked up during your life before adventuring, i.e. have more proficiencies. If you begin with the dragonmark, when you reach 4th level you have a choice as to how to reflect your growing capabilities. Either you pick ability score increases to represent your improving aptitudes, or you pick a feat. One of those feats you can pick is Skilled, meaning you can get back those three proficiencies you lost.

I.E. after four levels the whole thing is moot cause you have virtually the same capabilities anyway. (Yes, you wouldn't get two languages from Skilled, but if you really were dying for languages you'd take Linguist, which we already determined was better than the acolyte background, or you could spend downtime and gold learning a new language, etc. etc. etc., blah blah blah). Now it's just a question of what you want to focus on first. If your half-orc doesn't really want to deal with a dragonmark in her background personality, how dead set is she on having it at first level? Perhaps she would enjoy the story of suddenly developing it over the course of the campaign more?

But if your player character wants to have a Dragonmark but doesn't want it to affect their personality at all, then they are Doing It Wrong (tm). That's just my opinion, and probably not a popular one, but being Dragonmarked is a Big Deal (tm) in my campaigns. Anyone who takes a Mark, whether they are part of a House or not, has an aspect of their character that ties them strongly to the world of Eberron and I as a DM will play that up. This is something I tell player's going in, and maybe I was wrong to just assume that's how everyone plays it, but personally I'm baffled at the idea that I can't impress upon your young half-orc that "Hey, uhm, that Mark you have, I don't think you realize how big a deal it is." Part of the DMs job is to convey the setting, and that doesn't begin with the first session. It's my job to get the flavor of the setting across to players at the beginning of character creation so they can play a character that fits in the world.
enderxenocide0 wrote: Inspiration - For Eberron, and Eberron only, we add a new layer to character creation. Everyone gets a unique Inspiration-based ability that they get to choose. This idea stems from the 5E Ravenloft conversion made by Jester over at the Fraternity of Shadows. He introduced a mechanic called "Dark Shadows". Each one had a minor mechanical benefit that "provides an additional use for inspiration that you can use instead of gaining advantage." There could easily be one for each Mark with a benefit pertaining to some fundamental ability of the mark, like those skill-related benefits from 3.5 or just a cantrip. There would, of course, be non-Dragonmark uses for these unique Inspiration-based traits. Let me try my hand at a super quick example.

Inspiration: Mark of Making
You can spend your inspiration to gain the mending cantrip for 10 minutes. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for this cantrip. Alternatively, you can spend your inspiration to gain proficiency in the Arcana skill for 1 minute. If already proficient, you instead double your proficiency bonus.

Feat: Least Dragonmark (Mark of Making)
Vou learn the Identify spell and can cast it at its lowest leveI. Once you cast it, you must finish a long rest before you can cast it again. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for this spell. In addition, you gain the Mark of Making trait. If you already have this trait, once per long rest, you can use this trait without spending inspiration.

I... really like this. Okay, hear me out. It adds on to a character instead of removing or changing anything. It allows a character to have a Mark without having to invest a whole feat, but doesn't give them more than a cantrip and some skill-based abilities if they don't. They can have it at first level. They can gain it at later levels. It doesn't force them to incorporate it into their background if they start with it. On top of that, inspiration-based traits can be expanded to a number of other traits based on region, culture, or occupation given how minor their benefits are. 5E's standard Inspiration system always seemed like Action Points to me and I really never felt that adding Action Points on top of Inspiration made much sense. New Inspiration-based traits might make a character feel more special and, more uniquely epic, which is really what we're shooting for in Eberron, right?

So. What do you think?
...
It adds on to a character instead of removing or changing anything
...
It adds on to a character instead of removing or changing anything
...
It adds on to a character instead of removing or changing anything
...

You're a genius.

I'm not sure I agree with using Inspiration, as it's not a guaranteed thing you can rely on. That does play up a bit of the ineffable Prophecy angle to the Dragonmarks, but it doesn't really lend itself toward "this ability lead to a paradigm shift in commerce and industry".

Maybe you could make a magic item like...

Dragonshard Focus
Requires attunement (must possess the appropriate Dragonmark), common (1/day), uncommon (2/day), rare (3/day)
A dragonshard focus is a specially treated Siberys dragonshard mounted like a gem in a locket, ring, the top of a cane, or other item signifying the wealth of the owner. As an Action, the owner can gain Inspiration, but only for the purposes of activating their dragonmark abilities. The amount of times the owner can take this Action in a day is determined by the rarity of the dragonshard focus.
Every dragonshard focus item is constructed to only work with a specific type of dragonmark (Detection, Handling, Making, etc.). You may only attune with a dragonshard focus if you possess the appropriate dragonmark.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:52 pm

But if your player character wants to have a Dragonmark but doesn't want it to affect their personality at all, then they are Doing It Wrong (tm). That's just my opinion, and probably not a popular one, but being Dragonmarked is a Big Deal (tm) in my campaigns. Anyone who takes a Mark, whether they are part of a House or not, has an aspect of their character that ties them strongly to the world of Eberron and I as a DM will play that up. This is something I tell player's going in, and maybe I was wrong to just assume that's how everyone plays it, but personally I'm baffled at the idea that I can't impress upon your young half-orc that "Hey, uhm, that Mark you have, I don't think you realize how big a deal it is." Part of the DMs job is to convey the setting, and that doesn't begin with the first session. It's my job to get the flavor of the setting across to players at the beginning of character creation so they can play a character that fits in the world.
Oh, I'm 100% with you that they're Doing It Wrong... but I don't stop them from doing it. I suppose it comes down to what method of DMing one follows. I believe that, as a DM, we should strive to convey the setting to the players and advise them on choices and meaningful character development/background. We absolutely have the right to tell the player "Hey, if you want to have a Dragonmark, it will affect your personality and development through X, Y, and Z". I'm a strict DM that disallows content based on story. My players wouldn't question that statement. I once had a player that wanted to be a Half-Dragon with the Mark of Making. I said no. Words were had. In the end, RAW was on their side. I eventually came to the mentality that I'll allow it if it's in the rules, but I'll make damned sure the player knows this isn't normal and it's going to be a huge plot point that won't always be something that want to deal with. But from a game design standpoint, I don't think the designer has the right to do the same. That's where I see the difference. If I'm designing rules for a system, I have one foot in the DM's box and one in the player's box. I have to think about how both of them will react to a change I make. There are so many different styles of DMing that a designer can't just consider one of them. He has to think about them all. I think a setting should be beholden to the standard rules of the game first and foremost. Most design changes from a setting increase available options (Eberron Clerics being able to have alignments opposing their gods, for instance). There are, of course, exceptions to this rule (restrictions on Arcane Magic in Dark Sun is one). Still, I think that an option that avoids changes or restrictions is, in most cases, the better choice.
You're a genius.
Yes, yes, I know you already said it. I just found a way to do it :P

EDIT: I swear, this forum doesn't show me your whole post and I'm always forced to edit my replies to take something else into account. It's not my faulty perception, not at all, I say!
I'm not sure I agree with using Inspiration, as it's not a guaranteed thing you can rely on.
Yeah, I wasn't sure if Inspiration was the perfect way to go about it, either. I liked it because it allowed me to use a pre-existing system. You could always say that instead of costing inspiration, you can use the ability 1/short rest. Inspiration is very story-oriented, though... which I kind of like. But. We also have to consider that a Bard can just hand out Inspiration like candy. That's just asking for Dragonmark abuse. If properly balanced with regular uses of Inspiration, though, it shouldn't matter.
AvonRekaes wrote:Dragonshard Focus
Requires attunement (must possess the appropriate Dragonmark), common (1/day), uncommon (2/day), rare (3/day)
A dragonshard focus is a specially treated Siberys dragonshard mounted like a gem in a locket, ring, the top of a cane, or other item signifying the wealth of the owner. As an Action, the owner can gain Inspiration, but only for the purposes of activating their dragonmark abilities. The amount of times the owner can take this Action in a day is determined by the rarity of the dragonshard focus.
Every dragonshard focus item is constructed to only work with a specific type of dragonmark (Detection, Handling, Making, etc.). You may only attune with a dragonshard focus if you possess the appropriate dragonmark.
I might reword it to say something like: "While attunded to a Dragonmark focus, you can expend one of its uses as an action to use your Dragonmark trait without spending Inspiration."

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri Oct 09, 2015 9:10 pm

I'm pretty sure "Bardic Inspriation" is a different thing than "Inspiration". It's regrettable, but I think they're two separate abilities that are not mutually exclusive.

I also have a problem with Halflings who take the Lucky feat. Yo dawg, I herd u leik luck, so I put some luck in your luck.

And yeah that wording would be clearer.
enderxenocide0 wrote:Most design changes from a setting increase available options (Eberron Clerics being able to have alignments opposing their gods, for instance).
...Not to beat a dead horse any further, but both of our options increased options.

Non-Eberron: Choose a (1) race, (2) class, and (3) background.
Eberron: Choose a (1) race, (2) class, (3) background, and (4) whether or not you have a dragonmark. Whether its ability scores or proficiencies/languages, you have the choice of what you want more. It's a buffet.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:02 pm

I'm pretty sure "Bardic Inspriation" is a different thing than "Inspiration". It's regrettable, but I think they're two separate abilities that are not mutually exclusive.
Good call. These past couple days are the first time in a few months that I've actually looked at 5E (don't get me wrong, I love it, but my players are still on 3.5/PF).
...Not to beat a dead horse any further, but both of our options increased options.

Non-Eberron: Choose a (1) race, (2) class, and (3) background.
Eberron: Choose a (1) race, (2) class, (3) background, and (4) whether or not you have a dragonmark. Whether its ability scores or proficiencies/languages, you have the choice of what you want more. It's a buffet.
The horse is undead. We can beat it all we want!

Eh... what I mean is that having a Dragonmark affect a background creates mutually exclusive scenarios with characters made with standard rules. In 3.5, dragonmarks were Feats. They fit into a system that already relied on choice and, thus, didn't restrict a standard character from being made. In 5E, we really don't have that option. If we have to sacrifice a standard option (even by creating a choice from a background to have a dragonmark at 1st level, then we've restricted a standard option in order to introduce a new option. That is one way to handle it, I don't deny it. But if we can add it in a way that introduces the new option without restricting a standard option, all the better.

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:12 pm

Here's a thought.......

Say hello to the new human:
HUMANS TRAITS
Ability Score Increase. Two different ability scores of your choice increase by 1.
Age. Humans reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.
Alignment. Humans tend toward no particular alignment. The best and worst are found among them.
Size. Humans vary widely in height and build, from barely 5 feet to well over 6 feet tall. Regardless of your position in that range, your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Capable. You gain proficiency in one tool of your choice.
Skilled. You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice.
Exceptional. You gain one feat of your choice.
Legendary. Whether infamous or famous, legendary humans always seem able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. After every long rest, you gain Inspiration if you did not already have it.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and two extra languages of your choice. Humans typically learn the languages of other peoples they deal with, including obscure dialects. They are fond of sprinkling their speech with words borrowed from other tongues: Orc curses, Elvish expressions, Dwarvish phrases, and so on.


...and then give everyone a feat at 1st level. Problem solved.
Last edited by AvonRekaes on Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:23 pm

Without delving too far into it, my knee-jerk reaction is that this variant looks a little powerful. Assuming you're considering this to let everyone have a Dragonmark at 1st level, sure, it works. But it's not how I'd handle it, personally, since it involves giving every character a feat at first level.

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:34 pm

I understand your kneejerk reaction. It's definitely better than the Variant Human. It's just flat-out the same thing with an extra proficiency with the Inspiration added. There's no drawback from RAW. But I am under the impression that the Variant Human was balanced too conservatively, like the designers weren't sure how to really cost humans being the only race to get a feat that early.

But if everyone gets a feat that early, the doors are blown open and we can look at it on equal footing to another race

Here's my breakdown"

Compare this to the PHB Half-Elf.

Ability Scores: The Half-Elf has a +2 over the human.

Senses: The Half-Elf has Darkvision over the human's normal vision.

Defenses: The Half-Elf has advantage on all Charm saves and immunity to magic sleep, over the human's bubkis.

Proficiencies: Half-Elf = 2 skills of your choice, Human = 1 skill and 1 tool of your choice. I'd call that roughly equal.

Other abilities: Humans get the Feat (worth a +2 to an ability), and free Inspiration, which gives you advantage on 1 roll per day as opposed to all Charm saves all day long plus immunity to sleep. I'm comfortable saying that Legendary balances out roughly with Fey Ancestry, especially since Legendary functions off Inspiration, which is a resource that the Half-Elf can have too.

Languages: Half-Elves have three: Common, Elven, and Extra. Humans have 3: Common, and 2 Extra. Human has an advantage here because versatility has a weight. Humans finally come out unquestionably ahead on Half-Elves here. But we still haven't accounted for the Half-Elf's Darkvision. A bit more versatility in your languages = seeing in the dark? Sounds fair, or even the Half-Elf coming out on top again, to me.

So. This version of the human has a bit more than the Variant Human going for it than just a bonus feat, but it still roughly balanced. (Hopefully you agree).

Now "feat at 1st level" isn't all that makes Humans special. Now that's not their shtick. The automatic Inspiration every day is now something humans can point to and go "THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A HUMAN!"
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 1:38 am

I mean, I like your human variant. I agree that Wizards was being perhaps overly cautious in their Human design, probably to avoid the 3.5 trap where humans were almost always the best choice for a race. The feat variant was probably meant to represent that "humans are exceptional at certain things" idea. And it certainly captures it well. Yours gives more options, which I like. Makes human feel equally as special as the other races. Still not how I'd fix dragonmarks, but not a bad human at all.

Incidentally, that reminds me: I called the Least, Lesser, and Greater Dragonmarks feats in my Inspiration system above. I shouldn't have. I don't want it to be feat-based. Again, because feats are optional and it seems silly to say an optional system because mandatory in a campaign setting. So it's kind of silly, I know, but in my system, getting the higher dragonmarked abilities would probably be functionally equivalent to taking a feat... but wouldn't be called feats.

I know.

Trust me.

I know.

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Sat Oct 10, 2015 6:23 am

Haha, no worries.

Personally I'm happy to give away a free feat. It's the one nagging point to me about 5e. I know feats as a whole are better, but now to take one you also have to give away ability score increases. I think giving away one feat for free is fine. Making non-human rangers wait four levels to be good at two-weapon fighting seems dumb.

I think part of it is also the paradigm shift as to what "level 1" means. 5e's first level feels more like 3.5's Level 0. You're not even fully your class yet. I think it's kinda silly to impose that on the game, so I don't feel bad about injecting a bit more oomph into level one.

Free feats for every body! Kills two birds with one stone for me (weaksauce first tier play, and dragonmarks driving me crazy).


Currently I'm working on rejiggering the Dragonmarked feat from the UA article. It was a good starting place, but I didn't like some of the design choices. Namely, giving both Detection and Finding the same cantrip that had nothing to do with either finding or detecting things, then giving them the same capstone spell. Also, in 3.5 a dragonmark was more than just one ability at a certain level. There were options, which lead to the Houses being diverse in their guilds and business strategies. My current plan is to give a cantrip and a 1st level spell for Lesser, then you're choice of one of two 2nd-level spells for Least, and then your choice of one of three spells for Greater. I'm looking at the 3.5 ECS and getting their spell lists, and noticing some other odd things, like the new Greater Mark of Shadow stealing the old Greater Mark of Warding's nondetection spell. So I'm just going through and cleaning stuff up.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 1:56 pm

I had been working on a spreadsheet for Dragonmarks some time ago, where I was deciding on what cantrips, spells, ability scores, and skills would be associated with each mark. This was made back when I was thinking of making Dragonmarks subraces. While that's no longer what I have in mind, this might be useful for analysis of dragonmarks in general. Here's the incomplete version:

Ender's 5E Dragonmark Spreadsheet

It is, by no means, perfect. Mold Earth for the Mark of Passage? Nah. I couldn't find a good cantrip for it. There's no transportation-based cantrip currently in existence. Part of the goal was to make sure the ability scores were equally distributed and that proficiencies were unique to a dragonmark.

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:50 pm

I finished my version last night. When there wasn't a good fit for an ability, I made one up, (like how the 3.5 ECS made up Dimension Leap and Wind's Favor), or altered an existing spell (like the 3.5 did for the Greater Mark of Scribing's sending spell). In some cases, I just made an alteration that I thought would fit the flavor of the mark (like a written suggestion for Sivis, and non-alignment-based spirit guardians for Deneith). Also some cantrips I brought back from 3.5, whether I thought they were too important to overlook, like arcane mark (since arcane mark plays a significant role in Eberron society, what with letters of credit and Sivis-notarized identification papers), or because no other cantrip fit the mark (like Know Direction for Tharashk).

For spellcasting ability scores, I originally thought to distribute them evenly, but then I decided that the marks should be tailored to the races they appear on. So I chose an ability that the race has a bonus to (either a main ability increase, or from a subrace. When it was a subrace, I deferred to my "khorvaire culture" subrace, to subtly imply that the best, say, Shadow-Marked elves are not Aereni or Tairnadal). The only ones short-changed by this method are Half-Orcs, who have no mental ability score increase (but Humans can select Wisdom as one of their increases, so all Marks do have an "appropriate" ability score).

I opted not to include proficiencies, because I think the purpose of the skill bonuses in 3.5 was to grant an "always on" benefit for having the dragonmark. Some indication that it's magic continues to be a part of you beyond the X/day casting of a spell or two. I think now that Cantrips are at-will spells, including cantrips provides this "permanently magical" flavor to the Dragonmark. Skill proficiencies will now be a part of House/guild training.

Anyway, here's what I got:

DRAGONMARKS
By taking the Dragonmarked feat, you become the bearer of a magical mark on your body that indicates you are related to one of the Dragonmarked Houses. In order to qualify for a mark, you need to be related (even if distantly) to one of the appropriate Houses, and be of the appropriate race or races as listed below. (For example, a half-elf born from a House Phiarlan elf and a human would not meet the prerequisites for the Mark of Shadow, because while she has a blood relation to House Phiarlan, she is not of the appropriate race. Only elves may bear the Mark of Shadow.)

Dragonmark Racial Prerequisites
[b][color=#800000]Mark[/color][/b]|[b][color=#800000]House[/color][/b]|[b][color=#800000]Race[/color][/b] Detection|Medani|Half-Elf Finding|Tharashk|Half-Orc or Human Handling|Vadalis|Human Healing|Jorasco|Halfling Hospitality|Ghallanda|Halfling Making|Cannith|Human Passage|Orien|Human Scribing|Sivis|Gnome Sentinel|Deneith|Human Shadow|Phiarlan or Thuranni|Elf Storm|Lyrandar|Half-Elf Warding|Kundarak|Dwarf
Dragonmarks grant their bearers the ability to innately cast spells and cantrips, as summarized in the Dragonmark Benefits table, using the spellcasting ability listed under the Ability column. You cast each spell at its lowest level unless otherwise noted. Once you cast a given 1st-level or higher spell from your dragonmark, you must finish a long rest before you can cast it from your dragonmark again. Cantrips can be cast from your dragonmark at will. Dragonmarks themselves function as a spellcasting focus for the spells they provide, meaning you do not need to provide material components for spells cast through them unless they have a notable cost.
  • When you first take the Dragonmarked feat, you manifest a least dragonmark, the smallest version of your mark, which grants you one innate spell and one known cantrip. The cantrip does not count toward your maximum cantrips known.
  • At 5th level and higher, your mark becomes more potent, spreading across more of your body and becoming a lesser dragonmark. You choose one of the spells associated with your lesser dragonmark to learn. Once you make this choice it cannot be changed.
  • At 9th level and higher, your mark's power and size increases again, becoming a greater dragonmark. You choose one of the spells associated with your greater dragonmark to learn. Once you make this choice it cannot be changed.
Dragonmark Benefits
[b][color=#800000]Mark[/color][/b]|[b][color=#800000]Ability[/color][/b]|[b][color=#800000]Cantrip[/color][/b]|[b][color=#800000]Least[/color][/b]|[b][color=#800000]Lesser[/color][/b]|[b][color=#800000]Greater[/color][/b] Detection|Intelligence |[i]guidance[/i]|[i]detect poison and disease[/i]|[i]detect thoughts[/i] or [i]see invisibility[/i]|[i]arcane eye, clairvoyance,[/i] or [b][i]Medani's eye*[/i][/b] Finding|Wisdom|[i]know direction[/i]|[i]hunter's mark[/i]|[i]locate animals or plants[/i] or [i]locate object[/i]|[i][b]enhance ability*[/b], find the path,[/i] or [i]locate creature[/i] Handling|Wisdom|[i]druidcraft[/i]|[i]speak with animals[/i]|[i]animal messenger[/i] or [i]beast sense[/i]|[i][b]animal friendship*[/b], conjure animals,[/i] or [i]dominate beast[/i] Healing|Charisma|[i]spare the dying[/i]|[i]cure wounds[/i]|[i]lesser restoration[/i] or[i] protection from poison[/i]|[i]mass healing word, remove curse,[/i] or [i]revivify[/i] Hospitality|Charisma|[i]prestidigitation[/i]|[i]purify food and drink[/i]|[i]calm emotions[/i] or [i]Leomund's tiny hut[/i]|[i][b]create food and water*[/b], daylight,[/i] or [i]Mordenkainen's private sanctum[/i] Making|Intelligence|[i]mending[/i]|[url=viewtopic.php?f=16&t=14242#p163471][i]repair damage[/i][/url]|[i]identify [/i]or [i]magic weapon[/i]|[i]fabricate, [b]lesser animate objects*[/b],[/i] or [i]stone shape[/i] Passage|Charisma|[i][b]fleet*[/b][/i]|[i]expeditious retreat[/i]|[i]misty step[/i] or [i]phantom steed[/i]|[i]haste, passwall,[/i] or [i]teleportation circle[/i] Scribing|Intelligence|[i]arcane mark[/i]|[i]comprehend languages[/i]|[i]magic mouth or [b]suggestion*[/b][/i]|[i]hypnotic pattern,[b] sending*[/b],[/i] or [i]tongues[/i] Sentinel|Wisdom|[i]resistance[/i]|[i]shield of faith[/i]|[i]blur [/i]or [i]warding bond[/i]|[i]counterspell, protection from energy,[/i] or [i][b]spirit guardians*[/b][/i] Shadow|Charisma|[i]minor illusion[/i]|[i]disguise self[/i]|[i]darkness [/i]or [i]invisibility[/i]|[i]clairvoyance, fear,[/i] or [i]major image[/i] Storm|Charisma|[i]gust[/i]|[i]fog cloud[/i]|[i]gust of wind[/i] or [b][i]wind's favor*[/i][/b]|[i]call lightning, [b]sleet storm*[/b],[/i] or [i]wind wall [/i] Warding|Wisdom|[i]blade ward[/i]|[i]alarm[/i]|[i]arcane lock[/i] or [i]nystul's magic aura[/i]|[i]glyph of warding, magic circle,[/i] or [i]nondetection[/i]
*Denotes special uses of the dragonmark. See below.


Special Uses
Some dragonmarks cast spells at a higher level than normal, or have abilities that do not conform to any known spell. (These are special innate spells that only the Dragonmarked have access too, as modern arcane research has yet to replicate them).

Mark of Detection. You may cast Medani's eye from your dragonmark as an action to grant yourself truesight with a range of 15 feet. You have this truesight as long as you maintain concentration, for up to 1 minute. It is an innate 3rd-level spell.

Mark of Finding. When you cast enhance ability from your dragonmark, it is a 7th level spell, you may only cast the owl's wisdom version of the spell, and it affects up to six creatures.

Mark of Handling. When you cast animal friendship, it is a 4th-level spell and you can affect up to three creatures with it.

Mark of Hospitality. When you cast create food and water from your dragonmark, you may include cook's utensils as an optional material component. If you do, make a Wisdom (cook's utensils) check. If your check result is 15 or higher, the sustenance you create is flavorful and satisfying, instead of bland. If your result is 20 or higher, you may conjure tea, mead, or wine instead of water, but these will spoil unlike water.

Mark of Making. You may cast lesser animate objects from your dragonmark as an action. When you do, it functions as the animate objects spell except that it's range is 60 feet, and you can only animate up to 5 objects. It is an innate 3rd-level spell.

Mark of Passage. You may cast fleet from your dragonmark as a bonus action to increase your walking speed by 5 for as long as you concentrate on this effect, up to 1 minute. This is an innate cantrip you know and can cast at will.

Mark of Scribing. You require calligrapher's supplies as an additional material component to cast suggestion from your dragonmark. When you do so, as part of the action to cast the spell, you write the suggestion down (any available surface will do, such as a page in a chapbook, your palm, or even the floor). The written suggestion retains its enchantment as long as you concentrate on the spell, until the first creature who can understand it reads it. Thereafter the reader becomes the target of the spell as normal, and your concentration maintains the enchantment on it. The maximum amount of time you can concentrate on the entire spell does not change.
When you cast sending from your dragonmark, a first-hand description of the recipient by another creature makes you familiar with the target for the purposes of the spell.

Mark of Sentinel. When you cast spirit guardians from your dragonmark, the spirits appear as ephemeral duplicates of you, made out of shimmering ribbons akin to a three-dimensional living dragonmark. The damage the spell deals is force damage, regardless of your alignment.

Mark of Storm. You may cast wind's favor from your dragonmark as an action to create a localized area of strong wind (approximately 30 mph) in an area 10 feet wide, 10 feet high, and 120 feet long. The wind blows as long as you maintain concentration, for up to 4 hours. As an action while concentrating, you can change the direction of the wind by 45 degrees. Once you have activated wind's favor, you may not do so again until you have finished a long rest. It is an innate 3rd-level spell, and Charisma is your spellcasting ability for it.
When you use sleet storm from your dragonmark, you may choose to create either the normal effect, or a gentle warm rain. If you create warm rain, you may concentrate on the spell for up to 8 hours, and the area of the spell becomes a cylinder 500 feet tall with a 1 mile radius. This version of the spell does not create slick ice, or force Constitution saving throws to maintain concentration within its area.

New Cantrips
Arcane Mark
Illusion cantrip (Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard)
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous
This spell allows you to inscribe your personal rune or mark, which can consist of no more than six characters. The writing can be visible or invisible. An arcane mark spell enables you to etch the rune upon any substance without harm to the material upon which it is placed. If an invisible mark is made, a detect magic spell causes it to glow and be visible, though not necessarily understandable.
A creature with truesight or under the effects of the see invisibility spell can also see an invisible arcane mark. The mark cannot be dispelled, but it can be removed with another casting, by you or someone else, of arcane mark.
If an arcane mark is placed on a living being, the effect gradually fades in about a month.
Know Direction
Divination cantrip (Bard, Druid)
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous
When you finish casting this spell, you instantly know the direction of north from your current position. The spell is effective in any environment in which "north" exists, but it may not work in extraplanar settings. Your knowledge of north is correct at the moment of casting, but you can get lost again within moments if you don't find some external reference point to help you keep track of direction.
The gust cantrip can be found in the free Player's Companion to Elemental Evil. I've renamed it "Zephyr" for my campaign, as to avoid confusion between gust and gust of wind.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by dulsi » Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:05 pm

Interesting discussion. My first reaction is to just give everyone a feat at 1st level. A little more powerful than usual but not horribly so. However, I kinda like the sacrifice ability bonuses/proficiencies for a dragonmark feat.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:19 pm

Ever since I bought the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, I've had a desire to go back to an old way I'd considered doing it: Variant Races. The SCAG has Half-Elves that can swap out their skill proficiencies for abilities related to their Elven ancestry, while Tieflings can choose varying spells to represent their heritage. An interesting concept by itself and something that could work for Dragonmarks for any race. I know, there's the whole "Dragonmarks should add to a race, not change it" but... I don't know. Making Dragonmarks require a choice about your race appeals to me. It makes having a Dragonmark important. It's not the feat you take to get X spell. It's not just an addition, but integral to your character. The issue, of course, is the inability then to take it at later levels, which is less appealing to me.

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by HellcowKeith » Sat Nov 14, 2015 12:24 am

I still haven't had a chance to think about this seriously - up until this point I've been focused on Phoenix, and no one in my 5E Eberron game has played someone with a dragonmark, so it hasn't been an issue. I'll have to take a look at it soon.
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Sat Nov 14, 2015 4:54 pm

We all look forward to hearing your thoughts :)

In the meantime, here's another consideration: I'm starting to come around to the idea that characters should have to choose whether or not to have a dragonmark at first level. I say this because I think it would be mighty interesting to have class options that relate to dragonmarks. A Dragonmarked Sorcerous Origin would make a lot of sense. Additionally, the prestige classes from Dragonmarked could be reworked into 5E's base class option system. In the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, the Battlerager Fighter is restricted to Dwarves, but the sidebar suggests allowing it to be used in other campaign setting with different or loosened restrictions, like a Warforged Juggernaut in Eberron using it. Similarly, a Black Dog Rogue (as an example) could be restricted to those with the Mark of Hospitality in an Eberron setting, but make for an excellent Drow poisoner in Forgotten Realms.

To have these options avilable, you need to take the mark at first level. Hm. Unless you multiclass. Well. Now I don't know. Maybe I'll just write up a few examples and see how they would play out. Perhaps figuring out how dragonmarks work can be done retroactively once all the options available to dragonmarked characters are present.

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:44 pm

Personally I prefer to keep the same availability for significant story-integrated character options between editions, so the world maintains some consistency. For example, I stridently maintain that Syberis marks are mutually exclusive to least/lesser/greater marks, not just because that happened to be part of the mechanical method for gaining one two editions ago, but also because the world was designed that way. If you look at the designs for the Siberys marks, their centers have a negative space in the shape of the Least marks. Because they're not there. I think that's a neat setting detail that I want to preserve.

So because of things like that, I don't like messing with the story of how Dragonmarks can be attained. That's why I tried so hard to make them available at 1st level, because the narrative of "Dragonmarks are only available at 4th level and higher" does not fit with the narrative of the world itself, where Dragonmarks are often gained relatively early in life (through the Test of Syberis). But I would also go the other way and maintain that they can be attained after first level as well. What of the story of the chagrinned House heir that never developed a mark during the Test, but suddenly got it later in life? What of the orphan distantly related by blood who discovers his connection along with his Dragonmark during a harrowing dungeon adventure?

All these were stories that once could have been told, and I would strive to make them still available for the telling in any edition.

(Also, welcome Keith! I eagerly await to see your take on things. Me and Ender have been going back and forth on this one for a while :P)
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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by enderxenocide0 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:08 pm

AvonRekaes wrote:So because of things like that, I don't like messing with the story of how Dragonmarks can be attained. That's why I tried so hard to make them available at 1st level, because the narrative of "Dragonmarks are only available at 4th level and higher" does not fit with the narrative of the world itself, where Dragonmarks are often gained relatively early in life (through the Test of Syberis). But I would also go the other way and maintain that they can be attained after first level as well. What of the story of the chagrinned House heir that never developed a mark during the Test, but suddenly got it later in life? What of the orphan distantly related by blood who discovers his connection along with his Dragonmark during a harrowing dungeon adventure?

All these were stories that once could have been told, and I would strive to make them still available for the telling in any edition.
Damnit, man, stop saying things that make me rethink my stance! I need to come to a decision. *grumble grumble*

In all seriousness, though, you're absolutely right. I've been thinking about my Inspiration system where you can gain traits at 1st level and later. This kind of system still works with letting you have it at first level or have it later. As for class options, you can just tack on prerequisites of having that trait before you take a level in the class. You want the Blade of Orien fighter from first level, you have to take the Mark of Passage trait at first level. You want to multiclass into it later? Okay, just have the trait before you multiclass into it. My big problem is trying to balance other Inspiration Traits so that they don't just seem like feats. Because otherwise we might as well just say "feats are a thing in Eberron and everyone gets one at 1st level", which I really don't like... even if it makes sense and my Inspiration system is, for all intents and purposes, mini-feats.

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Re: Representing Dragonmarks in 5E

Post by AvonRekaes » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:21 pm

enderxenocide0 wrote:Damnit, man, stop saying things that make me rethink my stance! I need to come to a decision. *grumble grumble*
...You could always just decide to agree with me? :D

But yeah, I did kinda just bite the bullet and say "Eberron is about heroic adventure! FEATS FOR EVERYONE!" In all fairness, I should say that I have yet to DM an actual game of 5th, so I don't know how terribly broken an entire party with at least one feat (two if you're human!) at first level is. My inclination is that, yes, they will be significantly more powerful, but maybe you can just toss in dhakanni goblin ninjas and dolgaunts and everything will work out? -shrug-

I'm also dropping the action point thing. In all my years of DMing Eberron games, I've actually had a lot more negative player reaction to action points than positive. (I only get them back when I LEVEL?! What do you mean I LOSE UNSPENT POINTS? Aw man, I SHOULD HAVE used one for this save!" I also think Inspiration (even the base form) serves much the same purpose of encouraging high-action adventure, and is much more elegant.
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The Wayfinder Foundation of Khorvaire: 5th Edition and Pathfinder Eberron conversions.

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