Undead elves of Aerenal

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Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:54 am

I just noticed this island continent on pages 216-219 of Eberron Campaign Setting.

Are there any other books that expand upon this and provide more details of the area, The Undying Court or the deathless?

They remind me in some ways of the Ghostwalk Campaign Setting (although that blocks elves from being ghosts) or the archlich from SJR1 Lost Ships. And the emulation of the dead, reminds me of some sort of gnome community, that I can't quite recall (but might be from Taladas).

I would be especially interested in rules for creating undying NPCs or PCs. :twisted:

Can undying soldiers and undying councilors leave Aerenal? Or do they need to remain close to the veneration of the people of Aerenal, in order to avoid death?
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Chimpman » Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:06 am

The Players Guide to Eberron and Faiths of Eberron both have several pages on Aerenal and the Undying Court, although I just glanced through them briefly and couldn't find any information on creating undying PCs. I want to say I've seen that information somewhere, but I can't recall exactly where that was. I'll look through my other sources to see if anything comes up.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by ripvanwormer » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:30 am

The gnomes with skull-painted faces were from Taladas, I think, yes.

By 3e rules I think the Undying Court were deathless, rather than undead. You should be able to make PCs using the standard ECL rules.

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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Chimpman » Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:51 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:By 3e rules I think the Undying Court were deathless, rather than undead. You should be able to make PCs using the standard ECL rules.
That's correct. The Undying Court are deathless (non-living entities powered by positive energy as opposed to negative energy).
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:32 pm

Looking again, I see the deathless type in Chapter Eleven: Monsters.

That is on pages 275-276. But as a type and not a template, there are no obvious rules for changing living PCs to deathless ones.

Ascendant Councilor is on page 276, but has no LA (and no Creating an Ascendent Councilor section). This might be because it has 25HD (most monsters with that many HD tend to get treated as unplayable). :?

Undying Councilor is on pages 301-302, but again has no LA (and no Creating an Undying Councilor section). This monster only has 12HD, but it is said to spend a lot of time out of its body (so I suppose that is an argument for it being unplayable). :?

Undying Soldier is on page 302, but again has no LA (and no Creating an Undying Soldier section). This one only has 4 HD, so I see much less reason for it to be unplayable (unless deathless creatures need to be in the City of the Dead).

I suppose I need to look around for a process of turning a monster into a template. I was thinking there could be some sort of elven PrC (limited to elves from Aerenal) that turns a living elf into an undying one, but I'm getting the impression that this is something that is given to worthy elves after they die.

I'll have to flip through Ghostwalk and see if it has anything that might help.

Does anyone know if "deathless" is mentioned in any core books? Perhaps there is a deathless template outside of the Eberron setting.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Cthulhudrew » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:16 pm

Big Mac wrote:Does anyone know if "deathless" is mentioned in any core books? Perhaps there is a deathless template outside of the Eberron setting.
Not in any of the Core books, but there are two Deathless creatures in the Book of Exalted Deeds- the Crypt Warden and Sacred Watcher. The Crypt Warden is a monster with the Deathless type, and the Sacred Watcher is another Deathless template to add to existing creatures. The BoED also describes the Deathless type (though, IIRC, the ECS does as well). The Sacred Watcher sounds like it's what you're looking for, though it honestly doesn't seem too different (at a glance) from the Ghost template, save that it uses the Deathless type rather than the Undead type.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Chimpman » Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:22 pm

Is there a Deathless Template in one of the later Monster Manuals? I'll have to check.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Cthulhudrew » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:14 pm

Chimpman wrote:Is there a Deathless Template in one of the later Monster Manuals? I'll have to check.
I don't think so, but possibly. According to the Consolidated Creature lists on the Wizards 3.5 archives, the only Deathless types ever to show up were in the Eberron Campaign Setting, the Book of Exalted Deeds, and one other book I can't recall offhand (but I believe it was an Eberron related title). Of course, I'm not sure that Consolidated Creature list is complete; I think they may have stopped updating it at one point.

There is a homebrew template on the web.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Chimpman » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:43 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Chimpman wrote:Is there a Deathless Template in one of the later Monster Manuals? I'll have to check.
I don't think so, but possibly. According to the Consolidated Creature lists on the Wizards 3.5 archives, the only Deathless types ever to show up were in the Eberron Campaign Setting, the Book of Exalted Deeds, and one other book I can't recall offhand (but I believe it was an Eberron related title). Of course, I'm not sure that Consolidated Creature list is complete; I think they may have stopped updating it at one point.

There is a homebrew template on the web.
I ran through the MM books this weekend and I couldn't find anything.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:22 pm

Thanks Cthulhudrew and Chimpman.

I think this was a bit of a lost opportunity. More could have been done with the deathless type.
Cthulhudrew wrote:There is a homebrew template on the web.
That is an interesting interpretation of how a deathless template would work.

I was kind of thinking of deathless as anti-undead and that was making me think of them as good. But this template doesn't see to do anything about pushing their alignment towards good. I would have thought that would be a standard move. In their example they use standard undead as base creatures. That template feel more like the difference between FR's Weave and Shadow Weave, than my anti-undead thought.

Before you showed me this link, I was starting to think that the archlich (the good lich-variant from SJR1 Lost Ships) would probably translate well as a deathless, but now I'm not sure (it certainly wouldn't fit that template in spirit). Although, going via the way the example of this template is a deathless reboot of a ghast, a deathless reboot of a lich could work well as the start of what I think an archlich is.

I just spent ages trying to confirm what happens to the creature type in Ghostwalk Campaign Sorucebook, and finally found the answer on page 164 (where the sample ghost changes from Medium-Sized Humanoid (Dwarf) to Medium-Sized Outsider (Incorporal). And interestingly, I note that the Ghostwalk-ghost retains a constitution score. So I'm thinking that rather than being an alternative to undead (and maybe a different interpretation of deathless) the Ghostwalk-ghost is actually...dead! Effectively, as an outsider, it is a dead-person who has resisted going to the outer planes. On the other hand, undead (and maybe deathless) are creatures that have used their powers to hault death.

Anyhoo, I'm going to put the Ghostwalk-ghost to one side. Although it is interesting (and although the Ghostwalk sourcebook might be good inspiration for stuff to do with Aerenal) I think it is a red-herring that I brought to the table.

I think, that for a deathless template to feel "right" to me, I would probably be wanting to treat them a bit like lycanthropes and have a base undead and a base creature* (rather than just a base undead). I think that a process that was more like that, could be more about converting the original creature to a deathless, and less about making it a "Shadow Weave undead". If the undead could be used as a guide, and some sort of deathless rules** (similar to the Ghostwalk rules) could be used to swap undead abilities for deathless ones***, you might get a set of deathless types that feel as special as the ones in Eberron Campaign Setting****.

* = Just like a lycanthrope has a base animal and base creature.

** = If I was going to use base undead to help extrapolate a number of deathless types, I would be inclined to only pick the undead that were templates. (I suppose that might mean I'm looking for a deathless meta-template. :? :) ) As for the creature types, just as Ghostwalk limits them, I'd be inclined to say if a creture can not be made into an undead it can not be made into a deathless.

*** = This would be a judgement call thing, but I think that you could look at various D&D books that have had tables about "how spells work differently on plane X" or "how spells work differently in wildspace" that could be a good model of how to create a list of "differences between undead and the deathless based upon them. It could be seen as a deathless answer to "substitution levels".

**** = I don't have Book of Exalted Deeds, and it is possible that the way they handle deathless might influence what I'd do with them.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:44 pm

Even with my above thoughts, I've still got issues with this. The transformation to deathless does not feel like something that would ever work as a PrC. And without a PrC, I'm struggling to see how this could be made available to PCs without them suddenly getting a freebie power jump.

I like the twelve sided HD mentioned in the ECS description of the deathless type. I think this probably has to be something where the power level of the critter suddenly jumps, as it becomes a deathless. I'm not sure how this affects the sacred cow of "game balance". :?
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Azaghal » Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:44 am

Big Mac, I like the idea of "deathless" pc's. Any luck finding anything?
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by ripvanwormer » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:31 pm

Big Mac wrote:I was kind of thinking of deathless as anti-undead and that was making me think of them as good. But this template doesn't see to do anything about pushing their alignment towards good. I would have thought that would be a standard move. In their example they use standard undead as base creatures. That template feel more like the difference between FR's Weave and Shadow Weave, than my anti-undead thought.

Before you showed me this link, I was starting to think that the archlich (the good lich-variant from SJR1 Lost Ships) would probably translate well as a deathless, but now I'm not sure (it certainly wouldn't fit that template in spirit). Although, going via the way the example of this template is a deathless reboot of a ghast, a deathless reboot of a lich could work well as the start of what I think an archlich is.
Undeath has nothing inherently to do with good or evil, so neither does deathlessness. They're simply applications of positive or negative energy, which are both morally neutral energies associated with the morally neutral Inner Planes. There are good and neutral liches. Ghosts (standard undead ghosts, that is) have no alignment requirements. There are a few other undead with no alignment requirements, and one neutral undead deity. Adding positive energy to a corpse or a disembodied soul doesn't turn it good, or natives of the Positive Energy Plane like energons, lumi, and ravids would all be good - and in fact none of them are. Similarly, adding negative energy to something doesn't make it evil, which is why not all undead are evil, nor is every native of the Negative Energy Plane evil.

Now, the fact remains that negative energy is the eternally hungry substance of death itself, so playing with it casually can often be evil, since it increases the amount of death in the world. Which is why so many negative energy spells are considered to be evil. But it isn't inherently evil. And increasing the amount of life in the world isn't inherently good, though it does tend to be safer. The long and short of it is that it's a lot easier to create deathless without damning your own soul than it is to create undead. That makes deathless more benign, but it doesn't make them benevolent.

Undead are souls (and/or corpses) that have managed to retain a grip in the material world because the hungry substance of pure death empowers them to. Deathless are souls and/or corpses that have managed to retain a grip in the material world because the generous substance of pure life empowers them to - there's not enough of it to make them truly living beings, but there's enough power that they aren't pulled into their final destination in the Outer Planes. Ghostwalk-style ghosts are souls that manage to retain a grip in the material world solely because of the presence of the city of Manifest, which is very close to the afterlife, close enough that a soul doesn't have to try very hard to resist the afterlife's call while in its vicinity.

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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:27 pm

Azaghal wrote:Big Mac, I like the idea of "deathless" pc's. Any luck finding anything?
Not so far, but I'm still hunting down Eberron books.
ripvanwormer wrote:Undead are souls (and/or corpses) that have managed to retain a grip in the material world because the hungry substance of pure death empowers them to. Deathless are souls and/or corpses that have managed to retain a grip in the material world because the generous substance of pure life empowers them to - there's not enough of it to make them truly living beings, but there's enough power that they aren't pulled into their final destination in the Outer Planes. Ghostwalk-style ghosts are souls that manage to retain a grip in the material world solely because of the presence of the city of Manifest, which is very close to the afterlife, close enough that a soul doesn't have to try very hard to resist the afterlife's call while in its vicinity.
All of that was great, but this is the best bit. :cool:
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Sun Apr 26, 2015 3:20 pm

Over on the Ask Me Anything, that Keith Baker is doing on Reddit I decided to ask Keith Baker about the undead elves of Aerenal and Keith Baker was kind enough to reply:
HellcowKeith on Reddit wrote:
Big Mac TMMM on Reddit wrote:I've got another question (if you are still taking them, Keith).

I was talking about the undead elves of Aerenal at the Eberron forum at The Piazza, a couple of years back, but I've not been able to find any rules that would allow a PC to work towards becoming one of them.

I was considering doing something similar to Ghostwalk, but one of my friends there said that the Undying Court were deathless, rather than undead.

Is there anything, in any of the Eberron books, that I might have missed, to allow conversion of an elf PC into a member of the Undying Court? If not, do you have any suggestions for a non-Eberron book/rule that might work?

Thanks in advance.
The 3.5 ECS includes the spells Create Deathless and Create Greater Deathless. Now, I've never personally seen anyone try to use that as a way to turn PCs into Deathless - and among other things, it says nothing about the creatures brought back as Deathless retaining any of the specific skills they possessed in mortal life.

Personally, I'd consider this to be an imperfect version of the process - it's something a cleric of the UC can use to quickly bring back a temporary guardian, but I think the full process used to induct people into the Undying Court itself is more involved and that the deathless would retain at least some of their mortal skills.

With all that said, a few critical points: One of the key things that differentiates the necromancy of the Undying Court from that of Vol is that the Deathless aren't self-sufficient. Deathless require positive energy to sustain their existence. They can either draw it directly from manifest zones to Irian - something Aerenal has in abundance - or from the devotion of their descendents and followers. Where we've mentioned Deathless beyond Aerenal (such as in Stormreach), they are part of Aereni communities that provide that support. This is both a strength and weakness of the Deathless - they don't need to steal the energy of the living, but they rely on it being freely given.

Second, if you're looking to literally join the Undying Court, per canon the Aereni feel that it's important to fully experience life before making that transition. If you die young, they'd be more likely to resurrect or raise you than to want to make you Deathless.
The spells that Keith spoke about are on page 109 (Create Deathless) and page 110 (Create Greater Deathless) of Eberron Campaign Setting. There should really have been a link between the monster entries for the Deathless monsters (Ascendant Councilor - page 276, Undying Councilor - page 301 or Undying Soldiers - page 302) and the spells used to create them but there wasn't. However Keith has partially solved my problem because the Create Deathless spell states that it creates an undying soldier and the Create Greater Deathless spell states that it creates an undying councillor.

Both spells state that they can not be used to create an ascendant councillor.

Page 216 of Eberron Campaign Setting says this:
Aerenal, page 216 Eberron Campaign Setting wrote:In the centre of the island-continent lies a region where necromantic energy flows easily, and it was here that the elf Priests of Transition discovred the rites and rituals required to preserve their elders beyond death. Sustained by the veneration of their descendants, these undying elves have guided their country for more than twenty thousand years.
It seems to me that this is a process fairly similar, in some respects, to lichdom. A would-be ascendant councillor needs to be a respected elder and needs to take part in some sort of transition ritual. If I recall correctly, there was some sort of "epic destiny" thing in 4e, where PCs could work towards something similar to a Prestige Class. Perhaps becoming an Ascendant Councillor would be something similar to that.

Lets have a look at the stats and see if some of them look like they could be pre-requisits:
Ascendant Councillor, page 276 Eberron Campaign Setting wrote:Hit Dice: 25d12 +50
It would not be hard to say that a PC needs to gain 25 HD in order to transform into an Ascendant Councillor (with the HD changing from standard class HD into D12 undead/deathless HD during the process). Perhaps there could be an Epic Prestige Class (or "Epic Destiny") that
Ascendant Councillor, page 276 Eberron Campaign Setting wrote:Special Attacks: Purification, spell-like abilities.
Purification sounds like something that only a fully formed Ascendant Councilor would possess, but the spell-like abilities are pretty interesting. We have: astral projection (self-only), dispel evil, greater command, mark of justice, righteous might, greater scrying as at will abilities. There is also greater dispel magic, empowered heal, holy aura, quickened holy word as 3/day abilities. and storm of vengeance as a 1/week ability. All of these spell-like abilities have a 20th level caster level.

I can imagine a scenario, where a would-be Ascendant Councillor needs to learn how to cast all of those spells and needs to attain 20 levels in one or more spellcasting classes.
Ascendant Councillor, page 276 Eberron Campaign Setting wrote:Special Qualities: Consecrated aura, damage reduction 10/targath, deathless traits, divine immunities, resistance to fire 5, spell resistance 32, true seeing.
The consecrated aura, and to a lesser extent the divine immunities, are the most interesting thing. Along with what Keith said about Ascendant Councillors being venerated to give them energy, the consecration kind of adds to the feel that an Ascendant Councillor is a walking church! And the divine immunities is a bit like a mild avatar effect.
Ascendant Councillor, page 276 Eberron Campaign Setting wrote:Skills: Concentration +33, Diplomacy +37, Knowledge (arcana) +34, Knowldege (history) +34, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +34, Knowlege (religion) +34, Listen +36, Sense Motive +36, Spellcraft +36.
It would not be too hard for these to be pre-requisits in an "Elder" Prestige Class, that leads into becoming an Ascendant Councillor.
Ascendant Councillor, page 276 Eberron Campaign Setting wrote:Feats: Ability Focus (purification), Blind-Fight, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Empower Spell-Like Ability (heal), Greater Spell Penetration, Improved Trip, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (holy word), Spell Penetration.
Again, that could work very much like pre-requsits. Although if Ability Focus (purification) was a pre-requisite (rather than a feature of the transition) it would mean that the purification ability would need to be something an Elder could learn while they were still alive.
Ascendant Councillor, page 276 Eberron Campaign Setting wrote:Advancement: 26-50 HD (Medium).
This is interesting. If Ascendant Councillors can exist at multiple levels from 25-50 HD, it is possible that Elders do not need to die while changing form a 24 HD mortal to a 25 HD Ascendant Councillor. It is possible that they need to live to be at least 25 HD, but can "ascend" at any time after that. If that were the case, then the Elders would need to take part in some sort of rituals that will stop their souls leaving their body, if they die and the Priests of Transition would need to quickly get to any Elders who die and then perform the final ritual that causes them to return as a deathless.

The only question I have now is: Are the Priests of Transition the same people who become Elders and go on to be transformed into Ascendant Councillors? Or are the Priests of Transition some sort of middle-class below the Elders, who get transformed into Undying Councillors?

Of course, there is another possibility. Perhaps the Priests of Transition have the potential to be transformed into both types of councillors. The advancement section of the Undying Councillor says that they can be between 12 and 24 HD. That goes right up one below what an Ascendant Councillor starts out as. (And the Undying Soldier has a range from 4-12 HD, so perhaps Priests of Transition who die when they are very low level...get converted into soldiers instead.)
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Milke » Sun Apr 26, 2015 6:19 pm

The elves of Aerenal are discussed somewhat in the Draconic Prophecy books by James Wyatt. Book 1 is Storm Dragon.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:26 pm

Milke wrote:The elves of Aerenal are discussed somewhat in the Draconic Prophecy books by James Wyatt. Book 1 is Storm Dragon.
Another novel I need to read! ;)
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:34 pm

I mentioned this thread on Faceborg and got an interesting reply from Michael Williams:
Michael Williams on Faceborg wrote:I think they have the potential to become such. The main problem in their society from that standpoint is physical logistics. When the Elders basically live forever, there's no room for more. As far as if they automatically become an elder (when they are finally transformed after death), I think it might not be automatic, but they'd have a better chance than the average elf. Theirs seems to be a merit-based society, though. So even a low-born could rise to greatness after death.
I wonder if deathless truly last forever or if there is a point where the soul wears out and fades away. If dead people didn't need to eat, and you could expand the crypts, I wonder how many you could pack in.

There is also this concept of the living people venerating the dead and that veneration providing the deathless with energy. I would assume that you need a certain number of living people to keep the Ascendant Councilors in good condition. If something caused a lot of living people to suddenly die, I would assume that it would cause some of the Ascendant Councilors to suffer "starvation" and loose their grip on the world.

This Aerenal stuff gets more and more interesting. :)
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Milke » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:57 am

Yea. Those 3 books are wicked awesome. Wyatt is a great stotyteller, and he really gets the flavor of Eberron into his books.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by HellcowKeith » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:15 pm

Big Mac wrote:I wonder if deathless truly last forever or if there is a point where the soul wears out and fades away. If dead people didn't need to eat, and you could expand the crypts, I wonder how many you could pack in.
Per the Player's Guide to Eberron, most of the dead of Aerenal don't become Deathless. If you don't achieve anything remarkable in life, you are allowed to dissipate. Even those who are accomplished may not make the cut...

The Priests of Transition hold a great responsibility. They believe that Aerenal can only support a certain number of undying councilors. Sometimes the priests feel that a fallen elf has not earned a place among the undying, but that it would be a great loss to let his soul slip away to Dolurrh. In these cases, they use the create spirit idol spell to bind his spirit to his corpse. The spell keeps him away from Dolurrh and allows necromancers to call on his wisdom in the future.

As for the deathless themselves...

The elves reserve the gift of undying immortality for their greatest heroes—sages and artisans as well as warriors and wizards. Most elves are consigned to the catacombs after death. An elf who shows great promise might be raised from the dead if he was cut down in his prime. But traditionally, an elf can only become deathless after he has lived three centuries. The Priests of Transition view life as a journey on the path to deathlessness; even the worthy must experience a full life to appreciate what comes next.

A deathless elf does not automatically gain membership in the Undying Court. Military heroes usually become undying soldiers. They continue to defend the nation, and can be found in the catacombs and all the major cities of Aerenal. Newly raised undying councilors serve as sages and administrators— although the living perform the most vital tasks, so that they can complete the journey of life and avoid becoming dependent on the dead. After a thousand years, a councilor is considered for admittance to the court, where he tends the ascendant councilors and studies with the elders. What happens next is a mystery the uninitiated cannot understand; the ascendant councilors are truly alien beings, thousands of years old and charged with the energy of Irian.


Beyond that, bear in mind that Ascendant Councilors are only loosely bound to their bodies. If you look at the description of Undying Councilors on page 276 of the 3.5 ECS: "They rarely inhabit their physical forms, preferring to explore the universe in astral form and return to their bodies only when necessary to speak with the living or defend their resting places." An Undying Councilor wields tremendous power when in a physical body, but it's actually very rare for them to inhabit those bodies; it's a limiting experience and one they have outgrown. This ties to the idea that the Undying Court is essentially a gestalt entity - that the force that wields the divine power that can empower clerics or battle dragons isn't comprised of individuals, but rather the collective souls of the Ascendant Councilors joined together in a manner mortals can't truly comprehend. This is, essentially, the same concept as the Silver Flame - a well of mystical power comprised of the souls of the couatl and those who have followed them. The Aereni have basically created a small-scale model of the Silver Flame in which the component souls retain a somewhat greater sense of individuality... and from which the component souls can disconnect if they choose when they feel a need to return to their physical forms.

Essentially, the oldest members of the Court aren't simply immortal elves; they have ascended to a higher state of existence.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by HellcowKeith » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:29 pm

Big Mac wrote:There is also this concept of the living people venerating the dead and that veneration providing the deathless with energy. I would assume that you need a certain number of living people to keep the Ascendant Councilors in good condition. If something caused a lot of living people to suddenly die, I would assume that it would cause some of the Ascendant Councilors to suffer "starvation" and loose their grip on the world.
One of the reason the Court is based in Aerenal is that it contains an unusual number of strong manifest zones tied to Irian. This can sustain deathless even in lieu of the veneration of the living... but it is bound to a specific location. So if a lot of elves were to die, it wouldn't immediately destroy members of the Court... but it would dramatically limit their mobility and sphere of influence. It's been suggested elsewhere that for the Deathless to live in a different location for an extended period of time (for example, Stormreach) they either need a link to Irian or a community of supporters.
Big Mac wrote:Purification sounds like something that only a fully formed Ascendant Councilor would possess, but the spell-like abilities are pretty interesting. We have: astral projection (self-only), dispel evil, greater command, mark of justice, righteous might, greater scrying as at will abilities. There is also greater dispel magic, empowered heal, holy aura, quickened holy word as 3/day abilities. and storm of vengeance as a 1/week ability. All of these spell-like abilities have a 20th level caster level.

I can imagine a scenario, where a would-be Ascendant Councillor needs to learn how to cast all of those spells and needs to attain 20 levels in one or more spellcasting classes.
I see many of those abilities - notably astral projection, greater scrying, holy aura and holy word - as simply aspects of their ascended condition. They have transcended their physical forms and can thus astrally project or scry at will. They are suffused with the energy of Irian, and thus radiate "holy" power. Per the standard idea, many of the counselors were originally sages and artists; they were preserved because of the depths of their talents and insight as opposed to spellcasting ability, and over the course of ascension have gained greater power.

Now, these same sources say that it typically takes a thousand years for a lesser deathless to ascend. I could see a case that a powerful cleric could accomplish this transition in a far shorter time because she has already touched many of these mysteries. This is where I could see an epic path that would allow a PC cleric to become an Ascendant Counselor in a short span of time - something that would be a legendary feat and all but unheard of in the past.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Mon May 04, 2015 10:18 am

HellcowKeith wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I wonder if deathless truly last forever or if there is a point where the soul wears out and fades away. If dead people didn't need to eat, and you could expand the crypts, I wonder how many you could pack in.
Per the Player's Guide to Eberron, most of the dead of Aerenal don't become Deathless. If you don't achieve anything remarkable in life, you are allowed to dissipate. Even those who are accomplished may not make the cut...

The Priests of Transition hold a great responsibility. They believe that Aerenal can only support a certain number of undying councilors. Sometimes the priests feel that a fallen elf has not earned a place among the undying, but that it would be a great loss to let his soul slip away to Dolurrh. In these cases, they use the create spirit idol spell to bind his spirit to his corpse. The spell keeps him away from Dolurrh and allows necromancers to call on his wisdom in the future.
Welcome to The Piazza Keith. Thanks for coming over here. :cool:

I'll have to ask Havard to add you to his list of Celebrities on The Piazza. (You might want to keep an eye on the topic about Phoenix: Dawn Command in The Wishing Well forum. And you might want to add a link to your website to your signature, or one to your Kickstarter for Phoenix: Dawn Command, when you get that up and running.)

I wish I had gone through Players Guide to Eberron before. There is some really good stuff there, that I didn't notice.

The idea that there can only be so many undying councillors is really interesting. I would guess that, if the ranks of the undying councillors filled up, there could be thousands and thousands of years, when nobody new was able to join them.

But it seems that there would be more and more elves bound by spirit idol spells over time, as I can't see a limit on that.
HellcowKeith wrote:As for the deathless themselves...

The elves reserve the gift of undying immortality for their greatest heroes—sages and artisans as well as warriors and wizards. Most elves are consigned to the catacombs after death. An elf who shows great promise might be raised from the dead if he was cut down in his prime. But traditionally, an elf can only become deathless after he has lived three centuries. The Priests of Transition view life as a journey on the path to deathlessness; even the worthy must experience a full life to appreciate what comes next.

A deathless elf does not automatically gain membership in the Undying Court. Military heroes usually become undying soldiers. They continue to defend the nation, and can be found in the catacombs and all the major cities of Aerenal. Newly raised undying councilors serve as sages and administrators— although the living perform the most vital tasks, so that they can complete the journey of life and avoid becoming dependent on the dead. After a thousand years, a councilor is considered for admittance to the court, where he tends the ascendant councilors and studies with the elders. What happens next is a mystery the uninitiated cannot understand; the ascendant councilors are truly alien beings, thousands of years old and charged with the energy of Irian.
I do like this thing of life being the path to deathlessness. It ties in well with those elves who go with that Aerenal Half-Life. :) (I didn't notice a time limit on taking that feat, but I guess that someone would need to "earn" it too.) Half-Living sounds like it could be a fun way to explore this deathless thing, without needing to build an Epic Destiny path.

Races of Eberron has "Psionic Feats", "Shifter Feats", "Tactical Feats" and "Warforged Feats". I wonder if a tree of feats could be built on top of the Aerenal Half-Life Feat. :? There are some useful feats in the book, but only "Call of the Undying" ties into the deathless theme, and a PC needs to be a cleric, with the Deathless domain to use it ("Aerenal Beastmaster" is more about baboons than deathless). I wonder if there are some deathless/undead feats in non-Eberron products that could be adapted to Half-Living.

I know that Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting had Paladin Orders and Monk Orders that did special things. Perhaps something like that could be done to create paladins and monks that have a very similar theme to deathless.
HellcowKeith wrote:Beyond that, bear in mind that Ascendant Councilors are only loosely bound to their bodies. If you look at the description of Undying Councilors on page 276 of the 3.5 ECS: "They rarely inhabit their physical forms, preferring to explore the universe in astral form and return to their bodies only when necessary to speak with the living or defend their resting places." An Undying Councilor wields tremendous power when in a physical body, but it's actually very rare for them to inhabit those bodies; it's a limiting experience and one they have outgrown. This ties to the idea that the Undying Court is essentially a gestalt entity - that the force that wields the divine power that can empower clerics or battle dragons isn't comprised of individuals, but rather the collective souls of the Ascendant Councilors joined together in a manner mortals can't truly comprehend. This is, essentially, the same concept as the Silver Flame - a well of mystical power comprised of the souls of the couatl and those who have followed them. The Aereni have basically created a small-scale model of the Silver Flame in which the component souls retain a somewhat greater sense of individuality... and from which the component souls can disconnect if they choose when they feel a need to return to their physical forms.

Essentially, the oldest members of the Court aren't simply immortal elves; they have ascended to a higher state of existence.
Ah! Right. So the Undying Court might work like a hive mind or something like that. I didn't think of that.

It makes more sense for the Deathless Domain to treat The Undying Court as a deity now. Thanks Keith.

I was thinking of Ascendant Councillors slowly wearing out and moving onto the afterlife, so that new elves could come in and replace them, but I get this better now. It is more of a process of elves having the best lives possible and the best ones becoming Undying Councillors. And then Undying Councillors having the best unlife possible and the best ones becoming Ascendant Councillors.

So if Ascendant Councillors do "vacate their position" it would be the best ones. They would move onto some new stage in deathlessness. I'm not sure what that would be, but it would probably be something that even Undying Councillors didn't understand.

This is very much like the them of the Ghostwalk Campaign Setting, but it takes the entire idea in a different direction (deathlessness for the elite instead of becoming a ghost for everyone). I'm struggling to find anything in Ghostwalk that I can import, although I suppose that a few of the Ghost Feats might work for various deathless, I can't quite figure a way to make this a Player Character option for Eberron yet.

But I've spotted a lot of stuff that I just didnt' find before. I think I'm going to need to start reading Eberron RPG books cover to cover to find small details that I can tie together.

Thanks Keith and thanks everyone else.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Mon May 04, 2015 12:03 pm

HellcowKeith wrote:
Big Mac wrote:There is also this concept of the living people venerating the dead and that veneration providing the deathless with energy. I would assume that you need a certain number of living people to keep the Ascendant Councilors in good condition. If something caused a lot of living people to suddenly die, I would assume that it would cause some of the Ascendant Councilors to suffer "starvation" and loose their grip on the world.
One of the reason the Court is based in Aerenal is that it contains an unusual number of strong manifest zones tied to Irian. This can sustain deathless even in lieu of the veneration of the living... but it is bound to a specific location. So if a lot of elves were to die, it wouldn't immediately destroy members of the Court... but it would dramatically limit their mobility and sphere of influence. It's been suggested elsewhere that for the Deathless to live in a different location for an extended period of time (for example, Stormreach) they either need a link to Irian or a community of supporters.
This is the thing that made me think of how the City of Manifest from Ghostwalk works. That also has a localised effect (and it is a little bit of a problem if people want to play ghosts and leave the City of Manifest). I guess with you making the deathless into an NPC-only thing, it isn't something an Eberron GM usually has to worry about.

I suppose this also helps explain why the elves of Valenar are different to the elves of Aerenal. Without the link to Irian, they could not maintain the same number of Undying Councillors, so would be forced to live a different way even if they liked the old ways.

Is there a list of locations on Eberron that have a good link to Irian (or other planes)?

I was trying to research Eberron's 13th Moon (Crya) recently, and there was conflicting information suggesting that it was either associated with the Plane of Xoriat or the Plane of Dal Quor. (It looks to me that "Dragonshards: The Moons of Eberron" and the "Eberron Cosmology / Calendar Tool" don't provide matching information..) Anyhoo, what I'm wondering now is if one of the moons is associated with Irian.

I'm also wondering if deathless can travel outside of Aerenal when Irian is Coterminous.
HellcowKeith wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Purification sounds like something that only a fully formed Ascendant Councilor would possess, but the spell-like abilities are pretty interesting. We have: astral projection (self-only), dispel evil, greater command, mark of justice, righteous might, greater scrying as at will abilities. There is also greater dispel magic, empowered heal, holy aura, quickened holy word as 3/day abilities. and storm of vengeance as a 1/week ability. All of these spell-like abilities have a 20th level caster level.

I can imagine a scenario, where a would-be Ascendant Councillor needs to learn how to cast all of those spells and needs to attain 20 levels in one or more spellcasting classes.
I see many of those abilities - notably astral projection, greater scrying, holy aura and holy word - as simply aspects of their ascended condition. They have transcended their physical forms and can thus astrally project or scry at will. They are suffused with the energy of Irian, and thus radiate "holy" power. Per the standard idea, many of the counselors were originally sages and artists; they were preserved because of the depths of their talents and insight as opposed to spellcasting ability, and over the course of ascension have gained greater power.

Now, these same sources say that it typically takes a thousand years for a lesser deathless to ascend. I could see a case that a powerful cleric could accomplish this transition in a far shorter time because she has already touched many of these mysteries. This is where I could see an epic path that would allow a PC cleric to become an Ascendant Counselor in a short span of time - something that would be a legendary feat and all but unheard of in the past.
Thanks. It sounds like you think those abilities should just "kick-in" when someone ascends. I think that my problem (and it's my problem - not your problem - because you never designed this as a Player Character option) is that the Undying Councillors and Ascendant Councillors are pretty much identical things in the monster version. If PCs became Undying Councillors and actually retained a bit of their former selves, I would expect them to have some differences. That would seem to suggest a Template, rather than monster stats. So I guess I would need to pick your Undying Councillor apart and make something compariable as a PC option.

And if I solve that problem, and had Epic Play as Undying Councillors, eventually I would need to solve the second problem of turning Undying Councillors into Ascendant Councillors. I suppose the easy way out would be to make the ability to become an Ascendant Councillor into the end-point and turn a PC into an NPC, at that point.

I think I need to do some more reading to improve my Eberron-fu before I could try that.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Milke » Wed May 20, 2015 6:27 pm

Personally, the only way I'd incorporate deathless PCs into a standard campaign would be as you said, epic or mythic. However, that's not to say it wouldn't be fun to design a non-standard campaign for a group of elven PCs where the intention from the beginning was to have them turned into deathless, and design the campaign and challenges around it.
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Re: Undead elves of Aerenal

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:57 pm

I am now wondering if there would be any movement restrictions on undying soldiers.

Could an army of them leave Aerenal to fight elsewhere?

Would they take orders from ordinary (living) elves? Would any living elves need to be special ones (clerics or somesuch) in order to influence the undying soliders, or would they follow anyone they were ordered to?

Would they lead themselves? Would the advanced (5-12 HD) versions be the various ranks in an elven deathless army?
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