In the 800s, the curse of the lycanthrope proved to be a problem for the people of the continent of Khorvaire. In the year 832 YK, the Church of the Silver Flame announced the Silver Crusade: a church sanctioned scouring of the continent to destroy all lycanthropes and their ilk. This crusade slaughtered most of the lycanthropes on the continent, as well as a race of lycanthropic descendants known as shifters. Due to the atrocities committed by the templars of the Silver Flame during the Purge, it remains a dark page in the church's history.
Origin of Lycanthropy
The origin of lycanthropy remains a mystery that defies even divination; spells and rituals will often produce cryptic and often contradictory statements about "moons made flesh" and "the darkness within." The Arcane Congress and the Library of Korranberg have produced many theories over the years: some say the disease was created by the daelkyr during the Daelkyr War; some say it originated in the wild woods known as the Gloaming; some say that the disease came from the plane of Lamannia through a manifest zone; some think it was created by ancient druids; some believe it a gift from the goddess Olarune, corrupted over the years; while some even say that we have the facts reversed, and that lycanthropes evolved from shifters instead of the other way around.
- Keith Baker's commentary.
Lycanthropy originally was a mystical blessing solely tied to the moon Olarune and the plane Lamannia. However, two different forces are known to have corrupted this gift—Dyrrn the Corruptor, and an Overlord known as the Wild Heart. During the Lycanthropic Surge, the Wild Heart nearly broke free of its bonds and was able to take control of all lycanthropes.
The Lycanthropic Surge
However, no matter the debates on its origins, all agree that the curse of lycanthropy started to reach an unprecedented peak in the 800s. Scholars believe that the confluence of moons caused this surge, but whatever the reason, lycanthropes became more deadly. Formerly peaceful lycanthropes began to become bloodhungry. Even the nature of the disease changed: at first, only those born as a lycanthrope could infect others; however, during this time infected lycanthropes found that they could carry the disease. By the year 800 YK, large groups of werewolves prowled the forests of western Khorvaire, while wererat tribes were creating warrens beneath the cities.
Many scholars began to study the lycanthrope problem. First and foremost of these were the religious sages of the Church of the Silver Flame in Thrane. While the church did the most research into the problem, they also came away with the most flawed conclusions. The priests were already prejudiced against the shape-changing lycanthropes, having fought against the shape-changing tiger-men known as rakshasa for millennia. The priests found that divination magics revealed the souls of these lycanthropes to be evil, and that curing them was extremely difficult, if not impossible.
Meanwhile, a sect within the Church of the Silver Flame, called the Servants of the Pure Flame, started questioning the reluctance of the church to do anything about the lycanthrope menace. These Servants, who called themselves Puritans, were more militant than their brethren; they enforced the ideas of forced conversion to the Silver Flame and the destruction of anything that remotely hinted of opposition to the Flame. The Servants pressed the Diet of Cardinals to do something about the "lycanthrope plague." The religious fanaticism of the Servants continued to stoke the fear that the common man felt, and the lycanthropes took advantage of that fact: many lycanthropes infiltrated shifter communities in the western half of the continent. From there, these lycanthropes would try to turn shifters against humans.
To make matters worse, the Keeper of the Flame at the time, Keeper Jolan Sol, had his own agenda. In order to help propagate the religion of the Silver Flame, Keeper Sol focused his efforts on the people of neighboring Aundair. Aundair was one of the regions of Galifar most besieged by the lycanthropes, since most lycanthropes were found in the Eldeen Reaches of Aundair. Keeper Sol, a militant churchgoer in his own right, saw this as a way to turn more believers to the Silver Flame.
In 832 YK, Keeper Jolan Sol announced that the church had determined that lycanthropy was not just a disease of the body, but of the soul, and that those infested with the disease were beyond cure. He called for an immediate extermination of all lycanthropes and shifters on Khorvaire, asking for all loyal worshipers of the Silver Flame to take up arms and purge the lycanthropes and shifters from the face of Eberron. Knights and paladins across Aundair, Breland, and Thrane heeded his words, and thus began what the church officially called the Silver Crusade, but was much more commonly called the Purge.
The Long Years of the Purge
During the first few decades, the Purge was a monstrous fight. Crusade parties hunted down large settlements of werewolves and wereboars, fighting tooth and nail against the evil creatures. The lycanthropes continued their cunning strategy of misdirection, putting the shifter population between themselves and the crusaders of the Silver Flame. Many crusaders were slaying lycanthrope and shifter alike, though true paladins of Thrane used their ability to detect evil to differentiate between shifter and lycanthrope. As more Aundairians flocked to the cause, the desire of those to purge the evils of lycanthropy turned from justice to vengeance. Aundairians organized "full moon hunts," which left hundreds of innocent shifters dead.
It wasn't until 835 YK that Keeper Solan Jol clarified that shifters were, in fact, a separate species than the evil lycanthropes. Though the crusaders were instructed to hunt only those corrupted by the disease, the damage was already done; shifters were as feared by the communities of Galifar as much as their lycanthropic ancestors. With suspicions against the shifter populations of Aundair, Breland, and Thrane still high, cities began forming Inquisitor's Crucibles, where shifters would be subjected to divine vision to see if they were good or evil. Aundair's hatred of lycanthropes and shifters reached a fever when they began creating "purification camps" designed to purge any evil from shifters that were captured. Some shifters detested the Purge, while others joined the ranks of the Silver Flame to purge these evil creatures who besmirched their names.
While much of the Purge the Silver Flame was on the defensive, there were times that the lycanthropes pushed the upper hand. In the wake of the wererat infestation of Sharn, the Silver Flame had to bolster the defenses of Coldstone Keep, Thrane's local base of operations in Breland for the crusaders of the Purge.
As the Purge went on, the battle was joined. The Esoteric Order of Aureon, one of the oldest magical groups in Breland, joined the Silver Flame as well, throwing their magical expertise towards ridding the continent of lycanthropes. In the Eldeen Reaches, a Greensinger druid named Anthelnas ir'Phiarlan left the Greensinger sect to join the crusade. Taking the name Anthelnas "the Pure," he converted to the Silver Flame in 820 YK, turning against his kind and laying waste to portions of the Towering Wood in his zealotry to hunt the lycanthropes.
The End of the Purge
Surprisingly, it was House Medani that helped end the Purge. As the crusaders continued to hunt down remaining lycanthropes on the western edges of Aundair and Breland, the church called upon the help of the Dragonmarked houses. House Medani completed a dragonshard focus, which allowed them to use their Mark of Detection to reliably ferret out remaining lycanthropes from their hiding spots. At this point, most of the more settled portions of Aundair and Breland were considered "clean," with the remaining focus on the Eldeen Reaches.
The Church of the Silver Flame announced 9 Barrakas 880 YK as the official end of the Purge, and the church pulled out all of its forces from the Eldeen Reaches. To this day, all over the Five Nations, children act out great tales of these final battles with toy swords, while adults of the Silver Flame attend sermons on the lessons of the triumphs, the defeats, and the sometimes questionable methods used during the purge. The church calls this day Victory Day.
Survivors of the Purge are scattered throughout the planes of Eberron. A large number of lycanthropes and shifters fled to the Eldeen Reaches, where they either continued to live their lives hidden from the Silver Flame, or fled across a manifest zone to the plane of Lamannia within the Burnt Wood. Some lycanthropes fled all the way to the Demon Wastes, while others to what is now Droaam. Wolf's Paw is a small thorp nestled away in the Eldeen Reaches which some of the lycanthropes call home. In Droaam, a group of lycanthropes called the Dark Pack are almost entirely made up of survivors of the Purge, and a squad called the Beast Brigade served Droaam during the Last War. Some lycanthropes even fled for the wilds of Xen'drik.
There are those still that still hunt for lycanthropes, though on a much smaller scale. Agents of the Silver Flame still hunt the Burnt Wood for any lycanthropes that remain in the Eldeen Reaches, and the descendants of Bennin Silverclaw continue his tradition in fighting against lycanthropy to this day, each wearing a single-coated silver claw in his honor.
The New Purge?
With the Lycanthropic Inquisition now over a hundred years in the past, there are those that have forgotten the lengths of the atrocities committed, and wish to bring a new Purge to Eberron. Elder Wedon Nevillom of Wyrmwatch in Q'barra has said that the Silver Flame has shown him that the Purge must begin again, and that we should eliminate all shifters from Khorvaire. Elder Nevillom has a small amount of zealous followers that support him, though his efforts are confined to the wilds of Q'barra for now.
Another supporter of a new purge is Gennara ir'Damilek, a Silver Pyromancer and influential member of the Order of the Pure. Having grown up on the stories of the crusaders of the Purge, Gennara thinks of the crusades are the Church's glory days, and wishes to bring the Church back to that age. She does not yet know what the target of the next purge should be, but some candidates are necromancers, undead, and doppelgangers
Fathen the Martyr
In the city of Sharn, a shifter priest of the Silver Flame named Fathen exposed scores of lycanthropes. However, Fathen soon became a target himself, and was torn limb from limb by a pack of wererats. Fathen's heroics are remembered to this day in the North Market district of Lower Northedge at the Shrine of Fathen the Martyr. Every year on the date of his death, 25 Barrakas, the priest of High Hope gives a sermon on the Purge and followers traditionally donate 1 silver piece in memory of the crusader.
Another great shifter hero that fought alongside the Silver Flame during the inquisition was Bennin Silverclaw. An excellent tracker, Bennin Silverclaw went so far as to coat his claws in molten silver, making him an extremely dangerous foe to the lycanthropes he hunted, and was responsible for over 50 lycanthrope kills. Like Fathen, his end came at the hands of the lycanthropes when he and a squad of paladins of the Silver Flame entered the Demon Wastes to purge a cult of lycanthropes that were hoping to use the Demon Wastes as an area to regroup. Unknown to Bennin, however, one of his squad was secretly infected, and led them all into a trap. One last sending tells of Bennin standing alone slaughtering dozens of lycanthropes, severely decimating the cult's effectivity before finally falling to their numbers.
Not all shifters have heroic stories of the Purge, though. One shifter, Zev Jhaxos, was a monk and a well-known and high-ranking captain of the guard of the Aundairian town of Shadukar. When the Inquisitor's Crucibles were announced, Zev surrendered himself immediately, allowing himself to be subjected to the trial. He was brought before the Crucible at Sigilstar, but for some reason was sentenced to one of Aundair's purification camps by the tribunal of bishops at the Crucible. Zev Jhaxos, a devout follower of the Flame, accepted this decision, and spent his time in the purification camp developing a new monastic order, the Way of the Shackled Beast. Zev died within the cold cells of the camp, but his teachings have been passed on to other shifters. The Church of the Silver Flame eventually learned of Aundair's purification camps and had them shut down.
- Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, & James Wyatt (2004). Eberron Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
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- Keith Baker (2005/04/04). Lycanthropes and the Purge. Dragonshards. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2021/07/06.
- Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0786966890.
- iFAQ: Lycanthropes. Keith Baker (2020)
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- Keith Baker & James Wyatt (2004). Sharn: City of Towers. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 0-7869-3434-4.
- Marsheila Rockwell (2007). Legacy of Wolves. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4293-2.
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- Keith Baker, Jason Bulmahn, & Amber Scott (2006). Secrets of Xen'drik. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 0-7869-3916-8.
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