Ayeron materialized from the mists of the Mournland on 20 Olarune 995 YK, exactly one year after the Day of Mourning. They emerged nearly as they are found today: fully grown, wearing the trench coat of a Cyrian officer, able to speak several languages, and without a single memory from before that moment.
They are a 4′ 8″ owlin with long tentacle-y talons. They tend to greet people by stroking their bellies, after seeing the [very drunk] sorcerer Mars Jackalope greet the cleric Dmitri in this manner.
The owlin can frequently be seen scribbling notes and observations in a thick leather-bound tome. Their intense gaze and blunt questions turn many conversations into interrogations, with answers quickly recorded in the book.
In battle, Ayeron can whip tentacles at foes over great distances, sending spectral talons directly into soft and vulnerable organs. They are constantly changing position to keep foes off-balance; flying between rooftops or darting between shadowed awnings.
Ayeron had kept to the Mournland for all of their life early. They fly silently through the grey mists, looking for anything of interest. They has observed adventurers, salvagers, scholarly expeditions, and warforged as they try to make something from the ruins of Cyre. They feels compelled to understand these individuals, but is not sure why.
They can often be found sitting atop a tree, furiously scribbling the day’s observations in a leather-bound tome. Rarely, Ayeron will decide an activity requires closer investigation. Their natural abilities allow them to fly silently into camp for close-up observations, or even “borrowing” items like books from an encampment. Adventurers are rarely amused by this, so they has become adept at both stealth and quick smash-and-grab combat tactics.
One day, and quite-inadvertently, Ayeron flew beyond the bounds of the Mournland while following a pack of blink dogs. For the first time, they saw the wall of mist delinting the border of the ruined nation. Unperturbed by the screaming faces constantly forming and re-forming in the wall of mist, Ayeron passed through and was instantly fascinated by the unfiltered sunlight found beyond the Mournland’s pallor.
Their attention was drawn to the bustling activity from a cluster of run-down buildings: the town of Salvation, a basecamp for adventurers and grave robbers to mount expeditions into the ruins of Cyre.
Ayeron knew places like this existed from books and photographs they’d found in the ruins, and had seen warforged trying to make these “town” places live again. But this was the first specimen of a living town they had encountered. For a few hours, Ayeron flitted between the rooftops to watch and listen.
While perched on the roof of Salvation’s tavern, the Grey Beyond, they overheard a fixer trying to convince a rag-tag band of unrelated nobodies to do some jobs for him. During this conversation, the roof collapsed and dumped the owlin right in the middle of the conversation.
The fixer, Vinnie Naise, decided this was a new customer and began trying to sell Ayeron his mayonnaise products. When Naise realized that the owl-creature had no money, he added Ayeron to the “salvage team” so they could earn the money to buy Naise’s products…
My longest-running DnD group, The Spinach Inquisition, started a second Eberron campaign back in March. This was my first opportunity to create a character since the owlin playable race was introduced in December 2021. That made it an obvious choice for me.
The owlin are new to DnD, so I needed to find a way to fit an owlin into the Eberron setting. The easiest way to slot something new in is to have it come from the Mournland, a ruined nation covered in the magical-equivalent of nuclear fallout. This area is responsible for producing a lot of weird and unusual Stuff; an owlin would be a pretty tame Weird Eldritch Thing compared to the Sentient Tornado of Teeth we’d faced on a prior expedition.
And as luck would have it, our DM was planning to start the campaign just on the edge of the Mournland, in a town called Salvation. My character could meet the party on their first expedition.
To get a better idea of what I wanted to make, I took a look at all the subclasses that use light and medium armour. Owlins have a stealthy flight ability, but they need to keep their equipment light-weight for it to work.
I ended up with the soulknife rogue, which was psychic-themed and summoned thrown weapons from thin air every turn. It seemed like something I could make work with being “a weird thing that came out of the Mournland”.
For a rogue from the Mourning, I wanted something that looked like a predator. Lithe, unsettling, and wearing something distinctly Cyrian. Northern White-Faced Owls have some fuzz over their beaks that looked kind of cthulhu-y, so that’s the direction I went in.
For the first time, I commissioned some character art. I think I had just read Station: Starseed and seen some upsetting humanoids, and that was the vibe I wanted, so I reached out to Lucheek.
I’m glad I had the art done. I hadn’t thought too much about the hands. As soon as I saw the sketch, I knew tentacles were Correct. The soulknife summons spectral daggers — I reflavoured them as spectral tentacles.
My intention is that the Mourning — the magical fallout — is self-aware, but too alien for anyone to interact with. The Mourning knows that it’s creation (or arrival) was considered a Pretty Bad Thing, and it feels a sense of responsibility for the Cyrians that died on the Day of Mourning.
Ayeron character isn’t aware of their own purpose. They are a tool that the Mourning created, but either hasn’t revealed its intentions to Ayeron, or is unable to communicate directly.
There are a couple “directives” Ayeron was pre-programmed with, but they’re subtle influences instead of goals that can be planned for. The big one is to punish the people who led or enabled the Last War, resulting in the Cyrian genocide on the Day of Mourning.
The party ended up attending the Armistice Ball, and for the last couple sessions, Ayeron has instigated absolute mayhem resulting in the deaths of a dozen Brelish nobles. This is the directive at work: these were generals and financiers, and thus they faced the only justice that the Mourning could bring them.
The party (and Ayeron themself!) didn’t really question why we blew up the boat and drowned everyone on board. I’m hoping somebody will confront Ayeron about “hey why did we just drown all those people when we only needed to abduct one guy”. Because then they might start to see the directive’s influence!
The other directive is to learn about the world. The Mourning created this weird owl-man as its tool because it seemed like a good design. What happens in Cyre now is a bunch of eldritch abominations are hunting each other. It’s a brutal place where only The Fittest Survive.
A stealthy flying humanoid with ranged weapons and weird psychic whispers was its idea of an apex predator that would be able to gather intelligence beyond its borders. This is obviously not a good idea — a normal-looking human would have been better — but it doesn’t know any better (yet).
How Ayeron will return this knowledge to the Mourning is an open question. I don’t know if the module we’re running deals with the nature of the Mornland. The setting book leaves that up to the DM. If it’s a blank slate, I think having Ayeron absorbed back into the Mourning and perhaps reborn as something New would be a cool ending.
More to Come
This is my first post in a series about The Spinach Inquisition of Eberron. I want to summarize our original Eberron campaign and the current one here; both campaigns are full of completely unhinged shit, and people love that stuff!
The two campaigns are not directly linked, but we did pick up where we left the world — mainly, in a bad place, because we sort of accidentally let the villain re-enact 9/11 in the largest city. Which, surprisingly enough, has had a lasting impact on the world!
But more on that later. There are 76 sessions (and counting), which makes this a bit of a project.
I figured I’d start here with my current character since I had a lot of this written up already with an illustration to go with it. This mostly covers their backstory — there is, of course, Main Story now!