Excerpts 06/18/2007

Forge of War

Learn more about the Last War in Forge of War, a supplement that can flesh out the history of your Eberron campaign or even help you to craft a campaign that is set during this time period. Take a look at a few excerpts, including some history, various scars of war, a spell list, some magic items, and a warforged raptor.

The Course of the War

Though the land called Galifar was nominally a kingdom, it stretched across an entire continent. King Jarot was a king among kings, and his children answered only to him. The blood of Galifar used society's ties -- lightning rail, message stations, crucial rivers, and caravan routes -- to keep the realm unified, peaceful, and rich. Treasure flowed into its coffers, and its armies gleamed with arms and armor capable of holding off the forces of any invader.

The few nations around the edges of Galifar, such as the Lhazaar Principalities and the Demon Wastes, posed no real threat to its citizens. They were distant foes, easily ignored. The greatest danger to the empire was not outside its borders. It was within.

Galifar was an empire in everything but name. And empires don't die well.

The recital in these pages attempts the monumental task of summarizing over one hundred years of history spread across an entire continent. Unfortunately, a great deal of information about the Last War was lost in the continual upheaval, chaos, and bloodshed. Recounts of these years are buried in layers of propaganda, speculation, insinuation, accusation, and paranoia. Likely no one in Khorvaire will ever know the entire truth.

These pages represents our librarians' best efforts to piece together voluminous and ofttimes contradictory accounts. If nothing else, this work seeks to combat the old falsehoods that are repeated endlessly to justify lasting animosity. It is hoped that commentaries such as this one will aid in elucidation and engender continued study.

Roots of the Last War

In the monumental task of war, true triumph evades those without an appreciation for history.

-- Analects of War by Karrn the Conqueror

At its root, the Last War was a war of succession. The dispute that sparked the conflict was over which of King Jarot's five children would ascend to the throne of Galifar after his death. According to almost nine centuries of tradition, that honor should have gone to Mishann, Jarot's eldest and the ruler of Cyre. Upon King Jarot's death, Mishann's brothers and sister would abdicate their rule of the other nations, and Mishann's children would be installed as governor-princes of the Five Nations. That was how succession had been handled for the entire history of Galifar.

Instead, Thalin, Kaius, and Wroann rejected Mishann's succession. Their refusal to respect a central tradition that had kept the empire unified for nearly a thousand years sparked a war.

Many lay the blame for a century of warfare at the feet of the three rebellious scions, but such a view is far too simplistic. A closer look reveals deeper causes for conflict -- causes that stretch back in time at least to the unification of Galifar itself.

Before Galifar I's unification wars, Khorvaire was dominated -- though not entirely controlled -- by five independent nation-states. In the southwest, the nation of Wroat had been founded by Breggor Firstking in the area of present-day Vathirond. Its people journeyed south and engulfed the once-independent city-state of Shaarat, now called Sharn. Far to the north, the nation of Thaliost stretched across the coastline and down into the waterway that would come to be known as Scions Sound. Southwest of Thaliost, Daskara stretched across fertile plains. In the southeast, the small but wealthy nation of Seaside had grown up around Kraken Bay and expanded northward. To the northeast, the descendants of Karrn the Conqueror ruled a nation that bore his name. These separate kingdoms had existed for thousands of years and had evolved fiercely nationalistic cultures.

Although Galifar I united the five realms and thus succeeded where Karrn had failed, it is no real surprise that his accomplishment was temporary. He and his heirs clearly never eliminated the ingrained attitudes that led the people to think of themselves first as Karrns, Aundairians, Thranes, Cyrans, or Brelish -- and only secondarily as citizens of Galifar. Indeed, his succession practice of placing the ruler's children at the head of five principalities served to reinforce the ancient divisions. When crisis came, the people and the rulers easily fell back on old viewpoints, drawing lines between themselves and their neighbors based on borders over two thousand years old.

The tindertwig of succession ignited a vast powderkeg; Galifar had long been on a war footing. For much of his reign, King Jarot was terrified of war. He devoted most of his considerable talents to enhancing his kingdom's defenses. He perceived no end of threats -- conspiracies involving the dragonmarked houses, plots among the aristocracy of his realm, imminent invasion from Aerenal, a draconic scourge from Argonnessen. He feared the Inspired of Riedra (though he knew almost nothing about them) and dreaded the mysteries of Xen'drik.

Jarot's fears fed a military buildup the likes of which Khorvaire had never before seen. Each area bristled with armaments. Jarot instigated the research that would eventually lead to the modern warforged, and himself lived to see the first construct soldiers arrayed amid his armies. At his command, House Cannith began work on the mobile fortresses that culminated in the deployment of Breland's floating strongholds. With the king's urging and approval, House Deneith heavily recruited mercenaries from among the continent's more monstrous races.

In hindsight, Jarot's mental state appears to have been imbalanced. At the time, however, none could challenge his viewpoints, and few had any interest in doing so.

What caused Jarot's nightmarish preoccupation with an invasion from beyond his kingdom? There are many answers.

Some claim an insidious alien entity caused Jarot's madness. They say that the being infiltrated the king's dreams and planted the seeds of his paranoid imaginings. If that were the case, though, why did no outside force intervene in the war once it began?

Others claim that the true threat to Galifar came from the Demon Wastes. They posit a force of entropy and destruction that spreads from Ashtakala, the city of ghosts, along pathways as much spiritual as material, corrupting every empire and bringing it to eventual ruin. This profoundly ahistorical view treats the fall of Galifar as an event unaffected by any immediate circumstances except the constant influence of a long-dead city of demons.

Finally, a few claim the scions' complicity is far deeper than suspected. The five rulers all conspired at one time or another to spread doubts about the strength of the kingdom to their father. Their insecurity and selfishness fed Jarot's tendencies, exacerbating the tension and increasing the military power at their disposal.

All of these theories have one characteristic in common: They are searching for a deeper explanation for something that seems inexplicable. In truth, the people of Khorvaire had spent nearly a half-century expecting war to erupt on their shores at any moment. Under the weight of that expectation, it would have been surprising if war had not broken out.

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