Monks and the Dreaming Dark: Going Deeper

It’s fascinating what you can learn from Wikipedia these days (especially given that you really shouldn’t use Wikipedia to learn anything important unless you like your data heavily biased).

With thoughts of creating my own guild someday, I began considering a name for the guild. That’s when I stumbled on Wikipedia’s article on the religions of Eberron.

Unlike the Forgotten Realms, religion is cited primarily as minor story background through DDO, rather than determining your character’s specific alignment or favored weapons and spells as you would see in games such as classic Neverwinter Nights. That is, you’re more associated with a church (such as the Silver Flame) than a specific deity.

Also, while you might actually encounter avatars of many deities in FR gameplay, DDO’s Eberron has only a handful of powerful physical gods (The Lord of Eyes, Vol, Lolth, the Devourer of Dreams) but  few to none of the deities of a more cosmological bent, such as Mystra or Tyr. You can see the distinction as the developers portray it in the rest and resurrection shrines. In Eberron, these shrines are more hunks of vaguely ornate carved stone with generic, non-descript faces. But for shrines in the FR adventures, the shrines are beautifully-crafted figures of two specific deities of the Forgotten Realms. You might not be aligned to them, but these shrines restore you, all the same.

While DDO is based on the Eberron game campaign, it’s gameplay mechanic doesn’t fully sync with the pen-and-paper game. That said, the wiki article gives a very interesting backstory on the Dreaming Dark, as well as what occurred in the Eberron backstory that surrounds these shadowy inhabitants.

The Quori

You’ve heard the name of the Quori dropped if you’ve played any of the adventures in the Inspired Quarter.

The Quori are, as the Eberron Wiki page describes them, creatures of nightmare that originate from the extraplanar realm of Dal Quor. The Quori’s existence was tied to Eberron’s ages. When Eberron moved to a new age, the Quori die off and are reborn into something else that aligns better to what Eberron has transformed to become.

However, most of the Quori seem to hate this link and are trying to continually stop the change. They attempted to invade Xen’drik during the Age of the Giants, several game-thousands of years prior to present-day Eberron. The Giants stopped their advance. Familiar story? It should be. You get to react to a new invasion inside a recording of an old invasion of one key battle of that Quori/Giant fight in the quest “Eye of the Titan.”

After seeing that recollection, your character freaks and decides to investigate more into the Inspired, where they find themselves fighting for their own will in “Finding the Path.”

Let's see Leo and Friends try to go deeper on THIS guy.

Let’s see Leo and Friends try to go deeper on THIS guy.

Yep, if you’re fighting dream creatures, you need to go deeper. (In a related bit, GamerGeoff notes that, if you’re fighting DDO bugs, this might be true, too.)

Since that war, the Giants broke the direct connection of the Quori realm and Xen’drik, so the Quori can’t easily manifest in the Material Realm.

I love this story as well because it shows that the Quori were the true creators of the Warforged, not House Cannith. Before the House Cannith additions were added to the game over a year ago, players could pick up on this clue only from the quest. The true origins of the Warforged are now clearer as you read the journals found scattered about  inside the Cannith Manufactury zone. Basically, House Cannith found an old Quori device that could make these living constructs.

There were a handful of Quori who did not care for the evil ways of most of their brethren. In fact, they favored this change of the Ages. Before the war with the Giants, I think, one of the Quori, Tarantai, rebelled and escaped with about 66 followers into the Material Realm in hopes of a way to promote this change, which they believed would be filled with joy and not static darkness. There, she encountered some monastics in the land of Sarlona. These Monks voluntarily melded with these good Quori spirits–and also ensured that they’d have a bullseye painted on every one of those Monks by the Dreaming Dark Quori.

The descendants of these good-aligned Quori Monks are known as Kalashtar: Humanoid beings with psionic powers. Familiar word, kalashtar? You heard the name dropped when you’re exploring the second quest in the Gray Moon Waning chain on Sorrowdusk Isle: “Justice for Grust.” The Dungeon Master implies that kalashtar are extremely wise–and it doesn’t take you, much less a kalashtar, to know you are walking into a trap in that quest.

To kill off a kalashtar’s Quori spirit forever is nearly impossible. You could off one or two, but to kill off the Quori essence which, like a spiritual genetic trait, has passed into all kalashtar, you can only destroy Tarantai’s followers completely through absolute genocide of their entire race.

Destroy an entire race of super-smart psionic Monks? Yeah, like that’ll happen.

Not that the Dal Quor haven’t tried.

The Kalashtar vs. the Legions of Dal Quor

It seems that good Quori Tarantai realized that the legions of evil brethren in Dal Quor would eventually come to the Material Realm to destroy the Monks of Sarlona and the descendants of her followers.

So Tarantai and her direct descendants decided to screw up that plan–at the cost of their own existence. When the Dal Quor entered the Material World to target Tarantai’s descendants, they eventually used special devices called Shroud Resonators, which began to eternally protect the kalashtar and the Salona Monks. Activating these devices required all of Tarantai’s descendants to die in doing it.

This event hasn’t stopped the Dal Quor from continuing their efforts to destroy Xen’drik. They began to merge themselves with some humans (over a much longer time frame than the Kalashtar, and with greater coercion)  to create the Path of Inspiration, a secretive organization that plots the overturn of anything that will move Eberron forward into light. Darkness hates that, apparently. You can play a series of quests that deal with their attempt to mind-control all of Stormreach, which is also connected to yet another attempt by the Dreaming Dark to invade Xen’drik en masse again–this time, without the Giants and Dragons to stop them.

In the game, they call the cover organization “Dal Qat” and not “Dal Quor,” and I’ve yet to figure out why this is.

Maybe it’s a cover inside a cover within a cover.

Dammit!

Be sure to drop in the Inspired Quarter one day to see them at their work.

What? They look like just another quirky religion to you?

Try looking at them with True Seeing active on your character.

Differences in DDO

As I said before, the kalashtar are mentioned only in passing in one DDO adventure. The kalashtar, despite being aligned with some Monks at their start, are primarily a psionic race, with beauty that rivals the Elves. DDO, at the moment, don’t have the Kalashtar or any psionic race in game. (I expect the Gnomes to show up in-game before psions do–and I won’t bet on that, either.)

But should the Kalashtar do appear, they have to have a special kinship to the Monk class, and, as Halflings have an affinity to the Rogue class, a Kalashtar Monk would have special racial abilities. I like the take on this on this fan page about the race.

Oh, yeah. “I can kill you with my brain”, indeed.

The “Shroud resonators” and the Shroud raid (“The Thirteenth Eclipse”) aren’t related (as I first believed in reading the Wikipedia story). But it does give a fine story to why the Dal Quor seem more annoyed in fighting Monks and lawful characters. You never know if your Monk has a little Quori in them–and that means there’s an old blood feud about to occur.

You can read what I think is a tidbit of the the PnP Eberron usage of its thirteen moons that forms “The Shroud” story background in this Eberron Wiki article for comparison.