Heroes with no Homeland
The Shadow Marches
A land of fetid marshes and biting insects, primitive tribes and slithering serpents, the Shadow Marches is a region the rest of Khorvaire could happily ignore were it not startlingly rich in dragonshards, and were it not the location of a dragonmarked house’s enclave.
Although not every last inch of the Shadow Marches is swampland, it’s true that most of it is—and those regions that aren’t are either thick woods or already heavily farmed. The Shadow Marches is not a recognized nation and have no overarching authority, so no law exists to prevent the few arable regions from being rapidly exhausted. Most inhabitants dwell on a subsistence level. They construct homes on stilts and raise the few food crops—rice being the most common-that thrive in the marsh.
The majority of Marchers live in clans scattered across the Shadow Marches. Although all are primitive by the standards of the Five Nations, many have intricate crafts, ancient traditions, and a willingness to interact with outsiders. Others, however, are savages in the worst senses of the word, attacking outsiders on sight and worshiping strange spirits of the wild. The former dwell on the outskirts of the swamps, whereas the latter make their homes deeper in the bog, but this tendency is not a fixed rule.
The Shadow Marches boasts few major features or communities. Small villages are scattered across
the swamp. Built on stilts or on the rare patch of dry ground, these towns are home to the region’s more civilized tribes or to miners and prospectors searching for dragonshards (usually under the aegis of House Tharashk). A few ruins, remains from the age when demons walked the surface of Eberron, protrude from the swamps as well, although only the most degenerate tribes are willing to make their homes there.
Dragonshard Fields: Scattered across the Marches are regions where dragonshards can be
found concealed within the local rock in great quantities. House Tharashk has cataloged and claimed the known fields, but others surely await discovery.
Slug Keep: A ruined castle from the earliest days of Galifar, Slug Keep got its name from the masses of slugs, snails, and similar creatures that crawl across its walls on certain nights when the stars and the Ring of Siberys align.
Zarash’ak: House Tharashk constructed Zarash’ak, the largest settlement in the Shadow Marches, to enable trade in the region. Because it sits far from Zarash Bay, merchants use skiffs to move
their goods to and from the so-called City of Stilts. This practice has created a thriving local economy in skiff building, sales, and steering.
People of the Shadow Marches
Whether they’re wanderers or dwellers in the region’s far-flung villages, Marchers are an insular, tradition driven people who trust their fellow tribe mates and family members, and nobody else. Over half the population consists of orcs, who outnumber humans more than two to one. Goblins and half-ores make up the other significant peoples of the region. Villagers dress in loose-fitting, undyed tunics and leggings to make work more comfortable, and they wear broadbrimmed hats and wooden sandals or stilts while tilling the fields in the marsh. The more primitive tribes favor leathers or heavy fabrics that keep out the insects, repel at least some water, and serve as makeshift armor.
The citizens of Zarash’ak worship a variety of faiths. Most other Marchers follow the teachings of the Gatekeeper druids, although a few others grant their devotion to various cults of the Dragon Below. Most devotees of Khyber cults keep their rites and beliefs hidden, but there are places in the Shadow Marches where such worship is conducted openly.