Excerpts 04/08/2005

Races of Eberron Excerpt
By Jesse Decker, Matthew Sernett, Keith Baker,
Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel

If you have a shifter, changeling, kalashtar or warforged player character (or nonplayer character, for that matter), Races of Eberron can be a helpful resource for you! New options and rules abound in this rules supplement for both the D&D game and Eberron setting. (Note: Enterprising DMs definitely can use this book in any setting if they choose. You won't need the Eberron Campaign Setting book!) Our sneak peek of this book includes a look at warforged, shifters, changelings, kalashtar, drow, sample feats, and a couple of prestige classes.

Warforged Psychology

The forging

The technology used to create warforged began with the methods used to create mindless constructs. Although true sentience was a goal, there was little thought given to what the effects of sentience would be or how to best prepare those minds for their new existence.

At the moment of a warforged's first awakening to the living world, it can understand the language of its creator and instinctively knows how to move its body, but in all other respects the newly created warforged is a blank slate. At this early stage, any creature has great power to mold the future psychology of a warforged. It has no knowledge of the world, no understanding of falsehood, and no feelings about good or evil. Lies told to it then might be considered truth forever, or at least until disproved.

Most warforged were created in the forges of House Cannith. During the Last War, House Cannith had heavily regulated regimens of instruction for warforged. At their core was the understanding that a warforged was not entitled to choose for itself. It was created for one purpose: to be obedient to and fight for whomever bought it.

This simple concept required months of instruction. Although fighting came naturally enough, warforged had to be taught the use of weapons and tactics. They were instructed in how to recognize enemies, know allies, and improvise when left without commands. Most of this training took the form of elaborate war games in which warforged fought one another with real weapons while artificers and magewrights stood on hand to heal them. The victors received praise and saw the exultation on the faces of their human commanders, while the losers were berated.

At this point most warforged felt their first emotions. For most it was a single feeling: pride or shame, joy or jealousy. From then on, the warforged fought to preserve or quell that feeling through combat. It was better to feel nothing than to be jealous of others or shameful, and to maintain joy or pride, a warforged had to succeed constantly in battle. This simple view of the world served the warforged's creators and buyers well.

Next came fear. Although sometimes it is magically induced, most warforged first experience fear not in the face of overwhelming odds or terrible carnage, but when they realize that death means an end to experience. For a warforged, this is a traumatic revelation. Warforged were designed not to require sleep; they don't have any reckoning of a time when they aren't able to experience what happens around them. When a warforged was awakened from incapacity, it saw for the first time that the world moved without its input, things changed over which it had no control, and time passed without its knowledge. At this point, House Cannith trainers explained death to the warforged as equivalent to oblivion. Once that information had been implanted, fear could then be used as a motivator to get warforged to do their creators' bidding.

Warforged learned about other emotions on the battlefield. Most gained a sense of camaraderie from sharing battlefield successes and failures, but few know what real friendship is, and fewer still understand an emotion as complicated as love. Hate comes somewhat more easily to warforged. Warforged who know jealousy can most easily understand hate, but any warforged who cares for his comrades and fears for his life can come to hate an enemy that threatens both.

When the Last War ended and the Treaty of Thronehold declared warforged to be free beings, warforged lost the structure of their existence. Suddenly thousands of warforged were left bereft of leadership or purpose. This bewildering freedom led to a profusion of lifestyle choices. In Thrane and Karrnath, most warforged became indentured servants, tireless workers who could rebuild the lands ruined by war. In other lands, many warforged stood on the mustering fields for days or weeks, waiting for orders that would never come. Some warforged then banded together to decide what to do, while others looked to one of their own for a leader. Still others immediately set out in search of a life free of war. In those chaotic days that followed their freedom, warforged made their choices based on their feelings about the four facets of their free lives discussed below. The ideas they formed then about these core facets of their lives ruled their psychology and influenced the choices they made.

Soldier Mindset

Warforged were sold to each of the Five Nations, and each individual owed allegiance to one of those states. Even so, a warforged was beholden not to all the people of that nation but to its army leaders. Freed warforged do not consider other creatures their masters but instead tend to view them through the filter of their old lives, placing them in one or more of five categories: commander, comrade, ally, civilian, and foe.

Warforged consider an individual to be their commander if they take orders from that person. Taught to recognize the marks of authority on the battlefield, warforged also categorize others' commanders and look for their place in the chain of command.

Comrades are those who work or fight alongside the warforged on a consistent basis. The term "comrade" is a label that a warforged uses to indicate that experience. Warforged feel camaraderie for a group or individual after going through trying times, but it is only now, among the humanoids in peaceful times, that warforged are beginning to understand the concept of true friendship.

Allies are creatures with the same goals as the warforged. Warforged always view allies with some suspicion. During the Last War, alliances were frequently broken, and warforged learned not to trust allies to remain true.

A warforged considers anyone with whom it does not have a quarrel or common goal a civilian. Civilians and noncombatants were to be ignored unless a warforged was ordered to do otherwise. Thus, warforged have difficulty relating to others now that they have no masters to tell them how to do so, and many people see warforged as disrespectful, rude, and cold.

A warforged chooses its foes based on its goals. A foe need not be attacked, but a foe is someone to be defeated. When labeling someone a foe, a warforged also looks to see who that person's allies are and what position the individual occupies in a chain of command. Of course, foes often became allies during the Last War, and warforged often attach less rancor to the words "foe" and "enemy" than do most creatures.

Roleplaying Application: Your character should have a goal and should define others based upon that goal. Other members of your adventuring party should be considered comrades, but if one betrays your trust, you might downgrade your association to that of ally. Also, although created for action, your character was also made to take orders. If no course of action seems clear to your character, consider simply waiting until one becomes apparent or taking a cue from others. It's not that your character is indecisive or wishy-washy, it's just that she can often afford to wait -- either for the situation to be clarified or for someone with more experience or knowledge to make the decision.

Warforged Phrasebook

Although most of the language difficulties that warforged experience come from their narrow background, they also use phrases and terms that sound foreign to those unfamiliar with warforged training and battle tactics. Most of these terms were created by House Cannith in the warforged training halls for use in the war games in which all warforged participated, but a few were developed by the warforged themselves.

Dis: A shortened way of saying "dispel magic," this word indicates that a spellcaster should dispel the magic on an indicated friend, foe, object, or area. The type of dispelling or negating magic is unimportant. A warforged uses "dis" for everything from dispel magic to remove fear. The command leaves it to the spellcaster to determine the spell needed to negate the effect.

Ground: This brief command is usually shouted by a member of a unit when ranged attack is imminent. Warforged understand it to mean that they should take cover if possible or simply lie prone if cover is unavailable.

Points north: This command indicates that soldiers should aim ranged attacks or spells at an indicated enemy commander.

Points south: This command indicates that soldiers should aim their ranged attacks or offensive spells at an indicated spellcaster.

Repair: Although often shouted like a command, this word is really a request for aid. Once used only when a warforged was in danger of being destroyed by damage, it indicates the need for repairing magic and for another soldier to take the warforged's place in the fight.

Rush: This word means "attack" and is usually followed by a single-word descriptor, such as "north" for an indicated enemy commander or "south" for an indicated spellcaster. This command does not necessarily indicate a charge, only what the focus of a unit's or soldier's melee attacks should be. Thus, a warforged in an adventuring party fighting a spellcaster with a charmed ogre minion might call to the fighter, "Rush ogre," while to the others he says, "Points rush south!"

Scarce: Usually whispered, this command indicates that soldiers should immediately hide.

Warforged and Other Races

Warforged find it difficult to relate to other races. A warforged's face is capable of few expressions, and his voice is often hollow and monotonal. These facts alone would make many people dislike dealing with them, but warforged are also stymied by the habits and emotions of other races, and they sometimes find it hard to express themselves properly due to a vocabulary based on aspects of war. To top it all off, their bodies and the very name of their race are constant reminders of the Last War and its atrocities.

Despite the prejudice they face, most warforged do try to get along with other races. Warforged rarely form opinions about creatures they meet on the basis of race.

Instead, they consider a creature's nation to be more significant. A warforged who meets a citizen of a state that he considers an enemy might think poorly of that person. Similarly, warforged are often taken advantage of by those from their own country, who know they can rely on the warforged seeing them as allies. Warforged who have too much difficulty relating to other creatures often seek solitary professions or the company of their own kind, but warforged who find they get along well enough with other races often take great pains to keep the relationships strong.

Changelings: Warforged tend to be wary of changelings. Their employment as spies and assassins in the Last War ingrained a feeling in warforged that all changelings are deceptive and treacherous. At the same time, warforged understand that the war is over, and some feel a sort of sympathy for changelings, seeing them as creatures similarly defined by their past.

Dwarves: Warforged most easily enjoy the company of dwarves. Warforged rarely covet the dwarves' fortunes, and the typically gruff and dour nature of dwarves seems fine company to the often emotionally cold warforged.

Elves: Warforged respect elves as fierce warriors and intelligent tacticians, but see their airy ways and flighty passions as mystifying. The Aerenal relationship with death fascinates some warforged. Without knowledge of their own fates after death, some warforged become obsessed with Aerenal elves -- much to the elves' displeasure.

Gnomes: A gnome's insatiable curiosity mirrors a warforged's search to learn more about the world he lives in, but gnomes tend to be annoyed by how little warforged know about subjects gnomes consider to be basic or elementary knowledge.

Half-Elves: Warforged often find it difficult to distinguish half-elves from humans or elves, a flaw that some half-elves relish and others despise.

Half-Orcs: Warforged admire the strength of half-orcs, but they otherwise don't distinguish them from humans.

Halflings: Warforged admire the halflings' adaptability and skill at blending into the societies of others. On a personal level, most warforged find the glib-tongued halflings to be confusing.

Humans: Warforged know that humans were their creators, and it's difficult for them to forget that. How a warforged handles that association depends on the individual, but most warforged at least respect humanity's potential and drive.

Kalashtar: Warforged do not dream, and it's hard for them to come to grips with the idea that the rare kalashtar is anything more than a strange-looking human.

Shifters: In general, warforged harbor no bad feelings for shifters, nor do they find them frightening, but the shifters' animallike habits and emotional shifts are even more alien to warforged than those of other races.

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