I have to confess that the Xorian quests weren’t always among my favourites. Not just because beholders used to scare the bejeezus out of me. The standard reaction any new player has to meeting one tends to be running backwards, while jumping (because obviously that’ll help), spamming your hotkey to drink Cure Serious Wounds potions and simultaneously swearing profusely and praying you don’t roll a 1 on a Disintegrate.
I want dark plots, evil conspiracies and twisted motivations where victory prevents world changing cataclysms. I wasn’t convinced that a flesh sculpting fashion designer would fit the bill.
What changed my mind was a combination of things. Partly that so much attention has been lavished on the quests, but to an even greater extent I took time out to consider the events that we take part in.
To appreciate the significance of these events, lets start with a historical perspective. Our campaign takes place in the year 1,000 YK (give or take a few). 9,000 years ago, the Daelkyr, a race of immensely powerful immortal beings native to the plane of Xoriat invaded Eberron, bringing with them hordes of aberrations. It was with the intervention of the druidic order of Gatekeepers that victory was possible. The Gatekeepers were able to seal the plane of Xoriat from Eberron and trapped the remaining Daelkyr not banished to their own plane in the depths of Khyber. With the plane of madness sealed, the might of the Dhaakhani empire was able to prevail against the aberrant legions. Although victorious, the Dhaakhani were weakened by the generations of sacrifices, ultimately spelling the end of their domination of Khorvaire.
For millennia the Gatekeepers have been vigilant against the Cult of Madness, some of whom worship the Daelkyr, ensuring that the barriers between Eberron and Xoriat remain strong.
Our campaign (includes spoilers!)
In The Xorian Cipher we are first introduced to the Gatekeepers. Gatekeeper Chulkash, an aspirant in the druidic order enlists the party to recover The Xorian Cipher, a tome written in the ancient daelkyr language. Cultists of Xoriat have found their way to Xen’drik and are believed to be in possession of the Cipher. While their purpose is unknown, the Gatekeepers wish to recover this Cipher and put an end to the Cultists. At the conclusion of the chapter, we reveal to Chulkash that deep within an ancient Temple of unknown origins the Cultists had been able to use the Cipher to open a stable portal to Xoriat. The influence of Xoriat had warped the undead creatures bound to the cultists and foul creatures of Xoriat had been able to enter Eberron. Alarmed at the news, Chulkash seeks to consult with his order to understand how this seemingly impossible feat has been achieved.
In the final part of the Threnal storyarc, Coyle reveals himself to be Kharvos Valadan, a High Priest of the Cult of Madness. His true purpose in joining the excavation of the ancient giant ruins was to gain knowledge of the Cult of the Black Moon, The city of Threnal fell to the influence of Xoriat in ancient times and the Great Library was abandoned. With the ancient scrolls of the Black Moon in his possession, Kharvos Valadan used their power to reopen the portal to Xoriat in the depths of the ruins. Upon reaching the Gatechamber, he finds that it is already occupied and meets his fate, presenting the party with a mystery of how it is possible that giants had been able to access the chamber. The party learn of the ancient giants mastery of the magical arts allowing them to travel to other planes and are able to deduce that the barbaric giant shaman have some inherent talent for portal magic. Seemingly the giants had used the portal to travel to Threnal before Kharvos Valadan bound it’s focus to Xoriat, trapping them in the depths of the ruins. The party send for Gatekeeper Chulkash not knowing the full extent of the damage done by Kharvos Valadan.
In Dreams of Insanity, Gatekeeper Trakash has joined Chulkash in Stormreach and seeks out the party to once again hunt down the Cult of Madness. Trakash reveals that the Cultists have found an ancient Quori Temple built by the former slaves of the ancient giant empire. This temple contains ancient portals to Dal Quor dormant since the end of the Quori invasion 40,000 years ago. Using knowledge possibly gained since their arrival in Xen’drik, the Cultists are seeking to align these portals from the banished plane of Dal Quor to Xoriat. If successful, the creatures of Xoriat will once again be able to bring their madness to Eberron.
In Invaders, the party now back in the city of Stormreach are sent into a part of the Waterworks that has now been over-run by creatures of Xoriat. The battles previously fought in distant temples and ancient ruins are now being fought beneath the streets of the city itself, this time without requiring the involvement of cultists. It would seem that the ancient barriers created by the Gatekeepers that once sealed the plane of Xoriat from Eberron have been broken. The party are presented with the question of whether this phenomenon is somehow local to Stormreach or if the same effects are being felt elsewhere in the world.
The Xorian Saga
The Xorian Storyline would make an ideal saga, taking players from low-mid level to low-high level heroic quests.
Ancient madness awakes in the wilds of Xen’drik. The Cult of Madness has found it’s way to the uncharted continent and seek to break the barriers that have held since the time of the Dhaakhani Empire sealing the plane of Xoriat from Eberron.
- The Xorian Cipher (level 8)
- The Gate Chamber (level 10)
- Dreams of Insanity (level 11)
- Invaders! (level 12)
With the ancient barriers broken, denizens of Xoriat seek to exert their influence in Stormreach, whether for their own amusement or for some dark purpose remains to be seen.
- Missing (level 15)
- Sinister Storage (level 15)
- Fear Factory (level 15)
- In The Flesh (level 15)
The influence of Xoriat is unleashed in the enclave of the Twelve. The party are enlisted to free The Sleeping Spell Inn from it’s influence as the Inn becomes intermittently coterminous with Xoriat ultimately leading to their expedition to the Plane of Madness itself to recover a powerful artifact of the Daelkyr.
- Delirium (level 15)
- Acute Delirium (level 17)