Dragonmarks in Savage Eberron

So let’s talk about the Eberron Campaign Setting, and how I do my Dragonmarks in my Savage Eberron. I know this is something of great interest to anyone who is moving to using Savage Worlds in their Eberron campaign, or playing in a Savage Eberron game.

First let’s talk about a little history and context. My first implementation of Dragonmarks was in a method that was very similar to what Kristian Serrano has in his Eberron for Savage Worlds document. Where the Dragonmarks were arcane backgrounds. These provided access to a few specific powers and a skill bonus to a skill relevant to the dragonmark.

While this worked, I still was not quite happy with the implementation. During my Seekers of the Ashen Crown campaign, both Ivello and Kayde had dragonmarks. The main thing that I really had a problem with was that it was possible for the characters to fail to activate their dragonmarks. I remember a couple instances where Kayde failed to activate his mark, and definitely a few cases where both players needed to spend a few bennies to activate their mark. Now, considering all the lore about dragonmarks it is pretty clear that the powers of the mark are an innate ability to cast the magic that is part of the mark. So this was disappointing. Additionally, the powers list available for this very short and couldn’t be expanded. There was the need to advance a completely separate skill for casting. Ultimately, these only seem an attractive edge to take if you knew the lore of Eberron.

Then Pathfinder for Savage Worlds (SPF) came out. Personally I have very little issues with conversion/implementation of SPF. Eberron came out originally in the 3 and 3.5 D&D days which was soon succeeded by Pathfinder. So in so many ways I see the original Eberron Campaign Setting as built in mostly what would be the Pathfinder system. So having a Savage Worlds conversion of it, to me is the obvious choice for the game base of how I play my Savage Eberron. I saw in the Mystics Powers edges for the core “magical” abilities of Paladins, Monks, and Rangers as a means to implement the powers abilities of various dragonmark

Lore and Edition Changes

When the Eberron Campaign Setting first came out, there were different “levels” of dragonmarks, with the Least, Lesser, Greater, and Siberys marks. While 4E had paths of growth for dragonmarks, it seemed to do away with this concept. In Keith Baker’s independent release of Wayfinders Guide to Eberron, he brought back these ideas. But this was again left out in Rising from the Last War. I personally loved the scaling aspect of the dragonmarks and wanted to bring it back into my implementation of dragonmarks.

Another lore change that Keith Baker has been very vocal about is that the spell abilities of the dragonmarks are actually one of the least interesting aspects of the marks themselves. It’s been brought up in his blog and the Manifest Zone podcast, as well as how dragonmarks evolved in Rising from the Last War. The dragonmarks give you access to focus items as well as some skill that just makes you better at certain things. So these two points do come out in how I implement my dragonmarks.

One side note that I added to my Eberron, is that full blooded orcs can manifest the Mark of Finding. I was always disappointed in how they were excluded.

Basic Implementation of Dragonmarks

I created two core dragonmark edges for each mark. A dragonmarked skills edge and a dragonmark powers edge. Additionally there are some core powers edges that could be taken after the dragonmark powers edge to improve the use of those powers. It is in this that I created the different kinds of dragonmarks.

Least Mark

  • Dragonmark Powers Edge or
  • Dragonmark Skills Edge

Lesser Mark

  • Dragonmark Powers Edge and additional Powers Edge (like Power Points or Concentration)
  • Dragonmark Powers Edge and Dragonmark Skills Edge

Greater Mark

  • Dragonmark Skills Edge and Dragonmark Powers Edge and additional Powers Edge (like Power Points or Concentration)

While I would love to have a Siberys dragonmark edge, I have not figured out how to implement that yet. One thought that I had was to make the accessing of Epic Power Modifiers (see Pathfinder for Savage Worlds) as a means to get a Siberys mark. However not all the marks has powers that have access to Epic Power Modifiers. So if any of you have ideas let me know or I figure out something in the future, I will share it.

Dragonmarked Skills Edges

I will start off with the Dragonmarked Skills Edges since these all follow the same format and are pretty simple to get out of the way. For balance in Savage Worlds, edges that give a bonus to skill rolls generally either allow a free reroll to one skill, or give up to a +2 bonus to a skill. I didn’t want to go with a straight free reroll, as that would create some edges that would be almost exact duplicates of existing edges.

What I decided to do was to give a list of possible skills that are relevant to the mark/house. The player can choose two of the skills and get a+1 bonus to those skills. Then as an added cool flavor for the dragonmarks the heir can also get one free reroll to either of those skills once per session. Adds a nice flavor without seriously changing the game balance of the edge.

The following are the skill choices available to each mark. Please note: I made some tweaks to the core skills. Academics has been renamed to Lore, Occult has been renamed to Arcana, Repair encompasses healing warforged, Piloting is specifically used in manning elemental powered vessels. I have added the skills Animal Handling (which I consider very different from Riding) and Deception (I did not like making Persuasion an uber skill encompassing both deception and regular persuasion).

Mark of Detection
Requirements: Novice, half-elf
Skills: Common Knowledge, Fighting, Survival, or Thievery

Mark of Finding
Requirements: Novice, half-orc, Human, or Orc
Skills: Athletics, Notice, Survival, or Thievery

Mark of Handling
Requirements: Novice, human
Skills: Animal Handling, Athletics, Riding, or Survival

Mark of Healing
Requirements: Novice, halfling
Skills: Common Knowledge, Healing, or Science

Mark of Hospitality
Requirements: Novice, halfling
Skills: Common Knowledge, Notice, Persuasion, or Survival

Mark of Making
Requirements: Novice, human
Skills: Arcana, Lore, Repair, or Science

Mark of Passage
Requirements: Novice, human
Skills: Athletics, Common Knowledge, or Riding

Mark of Scribing
Requirements: Novice, gnome
Skills: Common Knowledge, Lore, Language, or Persuasion

Mark of Sentinel
Requirements: Novice, human
Skills: Athletics, Battle, Fighting, or Shooting

Mark of Shadow
Requirements: Novice, elf
Skills: Athletics, Deception, Performance, or Stealth

Mark of Storm
Requirements: Novice, half-elf
Skills: Athletics, Boating, Piloting, or Survival

Mark of Warding
Requirements: Novice, dwarf
Skills: Arcana, Notice, Stealth, or Thievery

Dragonmarked Powers Edges

SPF implemented core “magical” abilities by Paladins, Monks, and Rangers through the use of an edge called Mystic Powers. These are edges that give the character access to a short list of thematic powers (often with some kind of power limitation built in) that are activated simply by spending power points. No roll was needed. No additional skill was needed to be advanced for a limited arcane background. It was in these edges that I clearly saw as the means to create dragonmark edges that really fit the lore of the world in a meaningful way. I gave each edge access to five different powers using the model from the Class Mystic Edges, but a number of them have specific limitations based on the theme of the dragonmark.

Now a note regarding the powers and the skills. I have added a few more powers to my Savage Eberron. Some of these are from other Savage Worlds setting books, while some are to really create some of the signature spells that were core to the idea of a particular dragonmark.

These are Dragonmark Edges as I have them in my Savage Eberron.

Mark of Detection
Requirements: Novice, Half-elf
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Augury, boost Trait (Agility, Smarts, Fighting, Notice, Thievery, and any “knowledge” based skill only), detect arcana (no Identify), locate (can only locate traps), mind reading, and scrying.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. He automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for an additional 2 Power Points. He may use applicable Power Modifiers and Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Detection doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Detection (and vice-versa).

Mark of Finding
Requirements: Novice, half-orc, human, or orc
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Analyze foe, detect arcana (Identify only), darksight, farsight, and locate. Darksight and farsight have the range of touch only, but the heir gains no benefit from the Limitation.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. She automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Points. She may use applicable Power Modifiers and Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Finding doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Finding (and vice-versa).

Mark of Handling
Requirements: Novice, human
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Beast friend, boost Trait (animals only), empathy (animals only), speak language (Beasts for the power only), and summon beast. Boost Trait and speak language have the range of touch only, but the heir gains no benefit from the Limitation.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. He automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Points. He may use applicable Power Modifiers and Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Handling doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Handling (and vice-versa).

Mark of Healing
Requirements: Novice, halfling
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Accelerate healing, boost Trait ( healing, survival, and Vigor only), healing (not Mass Healing), relief, and resurrection. All powers are touch only, but the heir gains no benefit from the Limitation.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. He automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Point. He may use applicable Power Modifiers and Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Healing doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Healing (and vice-versa).

Mark of Hospitality
Requirements: Novice, halfling
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Conjure item, empathy (humanoids only), elemental manipulation, plane shift (Extra-dimensional space for the power only), and slumber.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. She automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Points. She may use applicable Power Modifiers if desired.

The Mark of Hospitality doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Hospitality (and vice-versa).

Mark of Making
Requirements: Novice, human
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Conjure item (not including Create Food and Water), detect/conceal arcana (not including Alignment Sense), object reading, repair, and smite. Smite have the range of touch only, but the heir gains no benefit from the Limitation.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. She automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Points. She may use applicable Power Modifiers and Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Making doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Making (and vice-versa).

Mark of Passage
Requirements: Novice, human
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Fly, leaping, speed, summon beast (mount only), teleport (not including Teleport Foe). All powers (except summon beast) have a range of touch only, but the heir gains no benefit from the Limitation.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. He automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Points. He may use applicable Power Modifiers and Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Passage doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Passage (and vice-versa).

Mark of Scribing
Requirements: Novice, gnome
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Confusion (spoken or written words trapping only), magic mark, message, secret writing, and speak language.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. She automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Points. She may use applicable Power Modifiers and Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Scribing doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Scribing (and vice-versa).

Mark of Sentinel
Requirements: Novice, human
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Arcane protection, deflection, gift of battle, protection, and warrior’s gift. All powers have the range of touch only, but the heir gains no benefit from the Limitation.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. He automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Points. He may use applicable Power Modifiers and any Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Sentinel doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Sentinel (and vice-versa).

Mark of Shadow
Requirements: Novice, elf
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Darkness, disguise, illusion (excluding Deadly), intangibility, and scrying. Disguise and intangibility are self only, but the heir gains no benefit from the Limitation.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. She automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Points. She may use applicable Power Modifiers and Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Shadow doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Shadow (and vice-versa).

Mark of Storm
Requirements: Novice, half-elf
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Barrier (air and water trapping only, not including Damage or Deadly), darkness (air and water trapping only), elemental manipulation (air and water trappings only), havoc, and telekinesis (air and water trappings only).

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. She automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for 2 additional Power Points. She may use applicable Power Modifiers and Epic Powers if desired.

The Mark of Storm doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Storm (and vice-versa).

Mark of Warding
Requirements: Novice, dwarf
As a limited free action the dragonmarked heir can cast one of the following spells: Arcane protection (including Epic Powers), barrier (not including Damage), glyph, lock/unlock, and sentry.

The heir has 10 dedicated Power Points that recharge normally. She automatically activates the power with success for its regular cost, or with a raise for an additional Power Point. She may use applicable Power Modifiers if desired.

The Mark of Warding doesn’t grant access to Edges requiring an Arcane Background. If the heir also has an Arcane Background, none of its Edges, abilities, or Power Points can be used with the Mark of Warding (and vice-versa).