Young Galifar was born in Vult, on the darkest night of Long Shadows. The common story says that both his mother and the attending Jorasco chirurgeon were found dead in the birthing room, the silent child still cradled in his mother's arms. The servants whispered that the child was cursed, that plants withered in his shadow. But it seemed Galifar could sense those who carried death in their heart; when a would-be assassin sought to kill King Cyre, the boy called out the killer's name and the assassin fell dead at Cyre's feet. While others still feared the prince, Cyre embraced him and the two were inseparable until the King's death.
This is a popular story, but as with so many elements of history, the concrete facts are shrouded in mystery. Many scholars believe that Galifar II was a tiefling with ties to Mabar; but others say that the king had an aberrant dragonmark in a place easily concealed. It's said that when Galifar looked at someone, he knew exactly when and how they would die. But while it was these eerie gifts and his cold demeanor that earned Galifar his sobriquet, Galifar II was a good ruler who strengthened the bonds between the Five Nations, reinforcing the Galifar Code of Justice and overhauling the calendar; it was Galifar the Dark who established the Year of the Kingdom still used today.
Aberrant dragonmarks were rarer in Galifar II's time than in the present day, and if Galifar's "gift" was a dragonmark, it was a strong one. If Galifar the Dark did have an aberrant dragonmark, he may have done research into these marks during his reign; it's possible that he sheltered other aberrants, or developed focus items for his or other aberrant marks. If aberrant-marked adventurers in the present day could find conclusive evidence of Galifar's mark—or a cache of journals or tools—it could have interesting repercussions for House Tarkanan and the Twelve.
Zilargo is the homeland of the gnomes, and at first glance it appears to be a paradise. The streets are bright and clean. The universities and libraries are the finest in Khorvaire. Everyone seems happy and helpful, and crime is all but unheard of. But Zil society is filled with layers of intrigue and blackmail that are often invisible to human eyes. And below that lies The Trust, a ruthless secret police force that eliminates any threat to society.
Zilargo isn’t a tyranny. Each major city has a democratically elected ruling council and a seat on the Triumvirate that governs the nation; the Trust reports to the Triumvirate. The Zil gnomes built this system, and they are quite happy with it. Their streets are safe, and as long as you play by the rules of the game, the Trust won’t target you. Outsiders find this casual acceptance of preemptive assassination to be terrifying, but the Zil actually trust the Trust.
Every Zil gnome is in a web of intrigues. This is condoned by the Trust, as long as no laws are broken and the state itself isn’t threatened. It’s fine for a gnome charlatan to connive another gnome out of a jewel mine—as long as this is accomplished through cunning, negotiation, or deception rather than violence or outright theft, and as long as the mine stays in Zil hands. The same applies to adventurers planning schemes in Zilargo: violence will get one targeted by the Trust, but is perfectly acceptable.
The Trust itself is a network of spies and assassins. Most agents of the Trust simply pass information through dead drops; some estimate that a third of the nation works for the Trust in this capacity. When the Trust identifies a threat, it acts preemptively. If a problem can be solved without violence—by sharing a piece of information, or a whispered warning sent via message—that’s what they’ll do. But the Trust won’t hesitate to eliminate a threat, whether with poison, spell, or a blade. Typically, a target will never even see the agent that kills them.
Interesting Things About Zilargo
- Most consider the Library of Korranberg the finest repository of knowledge in Khorvaire.
- The Korranberg Chronicle is the leading source of news in Khorvaire. Gnome chroniclers travel across Khorvaire in search of stories.
- The major cities of Zilargo maintain temples and shrines dedicated to every religion. Most Zil explore a few faiths before settling on one; others practice multiple religions.
As you develop a Zil character, consider the following factors:
Family Ties. In a nation shaped by intrigue, you need someone you can rely on. For the Zil, that’s family. Unless you’re an orphan, discuss your family with your DM. What’s their business? Who’s your favorite relative? Are you currently involved in any family schemes? Family members might call on you for help over the course of your adventurers, but they can also be a resource for you.
Knowledge and Power. The Zil prize knowledge above all else. Sage is a suitable background for any Zil; charlatan and spy are also appropriate, reflecting their love of intrigue. Classes that specialize in melee combat are rare among the Zil. The soldiers of Zilargo include rogues, bards, wizards, and artificers.
The Trust. In creating a Zil character, consider whether you have any ties to the Trust. A vast number of gnomes serve as the eyes and ears of the Trust, reporting interesting information to a Trust handler. As an active agent, you could receive missions tied to your current adventures. If you and your companions are fighting the Emerald Claw, you might have a secondary assignment to eliminate a specific Claw agent or acquire a particular object from their base. While the spy background is a logical choice for a Trust agent, the agency recruits characters of every class and background. Your class abilities reflect specialized training and granted abilities—the magical equivalent of spy gadgets!