In Khyber, you could …
- Fight mind flayers and armies of hideous aberrations.
- Discover a wondrous realm lit by an inner sun.
- Prevent a fiendish overlord from escaping its ancient prison.
The common creation myth contends that when the Progenitor Dragons fought, Eberron trapped Khyber in her coils and became the world, imprisoning her evil sibling in a living prison. Bound within the world, Khyber spawns demons and monsters to plague the children of Eberron. This might be myth and metaphor, but it’s also a description of fact: there are worlds within the world, realms inhabited by aberrations, fiends, and all manner of monsters.
Any time someone descends below the surface of the world, they enter Khyber. But the underworld takes two very different forms. First is the natural realm, networks of tunnels and caverns formed from stone and soil. These passages are dark and dangerous, but they’re exactly what you expect to find in an underground realm. Such passages might be home to carrion crawlers, giant beetles, or clans of kobolds. But ultimately these mundane caverns follow the laws of nature.
There’s another aspect to Khyber: go deep enough and you find a seemingly endless array of demiplanes, each stranger than the last. When descending into a chasm, you could find a labyrinth inhabited by demons or discover a realm consisting of the guts of a colossal living creature. Anything is possible in Khyber, and these “worlds within” are home to all manner of terrors.
The demiplanes of Khyber are not concretely tied to the world above. You could discover a passage in Breland that leads into a disturbing subterranean swamp filled with oozes and slimes. After traveling what seems to be a few miles, you might emerge from a different tunnel in Xen’drik, half a world away from where you began.
The Mror Holds demonstrate this mystery. Over the past century, the dwarves discovered a vast subterranean kingdom within the Ironroot Mountains. Most of these halls rest in the natural layers of Khyber. The halls connect to one another in logical cartographic order. But as the ancient dwarves dug deeper, they opened passages into the unnatural realms and unleashed the hordes of the daelkyr Dyrrn the Corruptor. Passages to Dyrrn’s realm also exist in the Shadow Marches, on the opposite side of Khorvaire. The Corruptor’s domain doesn’t necessarily stretch across the entire world; the portals to the worlds within defy natural law.
These connections impact the world in a number of ways. Dark forces can rise anywhere in the world, bursting out of a previously unknown portal to Khyber. This fact dictates the primary mission of the Church of the Silver Flame: to stand ready to defend the innocent from such unnatural threats. Because the demiplanes connect to the world at random, you never know what you might find when you venture into the depths. A newly opened chasm in the sewers could be an entirely mundane hole in the ground, or it could be a passage to the Abyssal Forests of Khar.
The many layers of Khyber share similarity only in their strangeness and deadliness. Eberron is the natural world; Khyber is the source of fiends and monstrosities and the domain of the alien daelkyr. Some cults of the Dragon Below believe that paradise awaits them in the Vale of the Inner Sun, but such cultists also consider gibbering mouthers and mind flayers to be creatures of beauty. Wondrous treasures might wait in the worlds below amid hordes of demons and aberrations.
Khyber’s Influence in Khorvaire
In Khorvaire, you might …
- Find a way to close a passage to Khyber before a horde of horrors emerges from it.
- Battle a mind flayer that has established a cult in the sewers.
- Stop the spread of a deadly drug or strange disease flowing from a well tied to Khyber.
Khyber is an ever-present threat. Any deep passage could connect to a realm of fiends or spew out an army of aberrations. Despite the magnitude of this threat, portals to Khyber are very rare, and they are stable once found. If you dig a hole in the ground, the odds that you’ll eventually reach the Vale of the Inner Sun are infinitesimal. And if a portal to Khyber existed in the sewers of Fairhaven, odds are good that it would already have been discovered. The risk arises when you’re exploring passages where no one has gone before. The sewers of Fairhaven might be safe today, but if an earthquake opens a new shaft or a group of cultists digs deeper, a previously unknown passage to Khyber could be uncovered. Wherever a passage to Khyber appears, monsters and dark powers can rise up to threaten the world above.
Cults of the Dragon Below often have ties to Khyber. Some serve aberrations or fight alongside dolgrims and dolgaunts (see chapter 6). Others can unintentionally threaten a community by releasing something from the underworld: an unnatural disease, a malevolent demon, or a strange and addictive drug. In dealing with such a cult, the question is not only how to stop their current machinations, but how to seal the passage or prevent it from posing an ongoing threat.
Treasures from Khyber can take many forms. The daelkyr create living tools, including symbionts (see chapter 5), but any magic item could be presented as an organic creation: a living cloak of the mountebank that teleports its wearer through the plane of madness; a dagger of venom made from chitin and muscle, similar to a scorpion’s barb; a crystal ball made by the daelkyr Belashyrra that looks like a giant eye, casting visions of distant places directly into the wielder’s mind. Items recovered from fiendish demiplanes might be constructed from standard materials but have a sinister aspect or appearance, such as a sword of life stealing from the Abyssal Forest of Khar made of jagged, blackened steel. Shadows trail the blade, and it issues a hungry moan any time it draws blood.
Created by Spartan Samuel 1 year ago. Last modified by Spartan Samuel 1 month ago