Symbionts are the creations of the daelkyr, the lords of the plane of Xoriat. They are sentient beings that are designed to attach themselves to hosts, and act as weapons and armor for their hosts. Since the end of the Daelkyr War thousands of years ago, symbionts still remain scattered across Eberron.
Symbionts were created by the daelkyr thousands of years ago, though it is unknown whether or not the symbionts were created on their home plane of Xoriat or on Eberron after the daelkyr invasion. Regardless, for thousands of years, symbionts have been symbols for the daelkyr, and are often gifts given to worshipers of the daelkyr and the Cults of the Dragon Below.
A symbiont can exist on its own for a length of time; however, it will seek a host as soon as one becomes available. When a symbiont bonds with a host, the symbiont immediately tries to take possession of the host, enforcing its will onto the hosts'. Only those with strong wills can overcome the mental invasion of the symbiont. Once the symbiont is subdued the first time, the symbiont will usually act cowed, subjecting itself to the users wishes. However, the symbiont may try to take over its hosts mind again if the host is especially weakened, or if the host tries to do something not in the best interest of the symbiont, like remove it or attack another symbiont. When the symbiont gains dominance, the symbiont is in full control of the host's actions, though it usually becomes apparent that the host is no longer in control of his or her body. Even in a cowed state, the symbiont may subtly influence its host, fanning the fires of rage or increasing a host's hunger for its own nourishment. Some hosts can be driven mad by the constant whispering of a symbiont in its mind.
There are many different symbionts in use today. Those include:
Breed leeches are eyeless black slugs with tri-mawed mouths. These symbionts are designed to help convert a population to the worship of daelkyr. When attached to a pregnant humanoid, the breed leech will inject genetic material into the host, transforming the unborn child into a daelkyr half-blood. The breed leech can only bond with a willing or helpless host, and usually attached via its mouth to the torso or arm of the host, making sure to be unseen beneath its host's clothing. Like most symbionts, the breed leech understands Undercommon, but can then speak telepathically with its host once bonded.
At first glance, a crawling gauntlet looks like a detached, crawling hand. The hand is actually a chitinous gauntlet, designed for a humanoid hand, and covers up to the forearm. The crawling gauntlet will bond with a willing or helpless host, surrounding the host's hand and embedding itself to the host using tiny tendrils that burrow beneath the skin. Attaching or removing the crawling gauntlet does damage to the host body. Once bonded, the host can use the claws on the crawling gauntlet to attack enemies. Like most symbionts, the crawling gauntlet understands Undercommon, but can then speak telepathically with its host once bonded.
Daelkyr half-bloods have been known to grow crawling gauntlets.
Living breastplates are formed of plates of hard, black chiton, with red veins and sinew pulsing beneath. They can understand Undercommon, and seek willing hosts with which to bond. The user must actually don the armor, at which point tendrils from the armor begin burrowing into the skin of the user. Once bonded, the living breastplate, like most symbionts, can then communicate with its host telepathically. Living breastplates act as living armor, protecting the host from harm. They also act as damage reduction, minimize the damage from critical hits, and can stabilize a host if it is wounded. They also increase the constitution of their hosts.
A shadow sibling is the symbiotic sentient shadow of a creature. Usually, they are grown from the shadows of daelkyr or daelkyr half-bloods, however, shadow siblings can bond with any humanoid if they are willing or helpless. The shadow sibling looks like a faint, shadowy humanoid, with indistinct features. When pulled close to the host, the shadow sibling also blurs the features of its host. When the host is enshrouded, the host is concealed and blocked by ambient light. The shadow sibling can also attack others, and its touch can damage the flesh of an opponent while bonded to a host. Like most symbionts, the shadow sibling understands Undercommon, but can then speak telepathically with its host once bonded.
A spellwurm is a thick, purple, snake-like creature about the size of a human arm. The spellwurm has a five-fingered maw, which it uses to attach to willing or helpless hosts. The spellwurm can attach to a humanoid's missing arm, or attach to a humanoid's armpit to act as a third appendage. While a spellwurm may be the size of a human arm, it can do only one thing: cast spells. During combat, the spellwurm will gesticulate, casting spells at the host's opponent. Like most symbionts, the spellwurm understands Undercommon, but can then speak telepathically with its host once bonded. They are commonly found on daelkyr and their creations, like dolgaunts and beholders.
The stormstalk is one of the eyestalk of a beholder. This eyestalk is a symbiont, and can bond with a willing or helpless host. When it finds a host, the stormstalk burrows roots into the head of the host, connecting directly to the host's brainstem and bloodstream. Once bonded, the stormstalk communicates directly with the host telepathically. At the host's command, the stormstalk can shoot bolts of lightning at other creatures. Unlike other symbionts which are depowered when not bonded, the stormstalk can also emit this lightning blast when detached from a host as well. Attaching a stormstalk or removing it does damage to its host.
The tentacle whip is a deadly weapon in the hands of an experienced user. This long symbiotic whip can graft itself to a willing or unconscious host. The whip resembles a long strand of muscle that ends in a stinger; a stinger which is razor sharp and can inject poison into its foes. Like other symbionts, the whip understands Undercommon, but can then speak telepathically with its host. The tentacle whip requires sustenance, and will drain the energies of its host; this drain is relatively minimal, though. While the whip is bonded to an arm, it cannot get disarmed like a traditional weapon; however, its wielder cannot use another weapon or shield in that free hand. The whip is usually 15 feet long, and is also able to channel melee touch spells through it.
A throwing scarab is a unique symbiont, in that it is almost as deadly without its host as with it. The throwing scarab looks like a beautiful piece of jewelry, covered with oil, until its wings flutter. A throwing scarab will attach itself to the outside of the hand of a willing or helpless host, where it looks to the casual observer to be a piece of decorative jewelry. Once attached, the throwing scarab can generate a crystalline carapace, that it can thrust at the enemies of the host. When flung at an enemy, it can slice through skin. Upon hit, the carapace dissolves into an acidic residue, burning the target. Like most symbionts, the throwing scarab understands Undercommon, but can speak to its host telepathically once bonded.
At first glance, the tongueworm appears to be a small cobra with the same color as a human tongue. The tongueworm can enter the mouths of willing or helpless hosts, then bond itself to the top of the host's mouth. The tongueworm can then spring from its location hidden on the tongue of the user, launching itself out of the user's mouth and attack a creature using a poisonous barb. Like most symbionts, the tongueworm understands Undercommon, but can speak to its host telepathically once bonded. Once bonded, the tongueworm cannot be removed without the user taking damage. The tongueworm's reach is 5 feet, and its poison is designed to paralyze its prey. The tongueworm conveys an immunity to its own poison to its host.
Winter cysts are the first naturally-evolved symbiont that appeared. These slug-like, slimy polyps burrow into the heads of willing or helpless hosts; driving their roots into the head of the host and connecting directly to the host's brainstem and bloodstream. Similar to stormstalks, winter cysts can then use their one baleful eye to project a blast of freezing cold at an opponent. Unlike other symbionts which are depowered when not bonded, the winter cyst can also emit this freezing blast when detached from a host as well. Attaching a winter cyst or removing it does damage to its host. Winter cysts can understand Undercommon, but communicate telepathically to their host once bonded.
There have been many users of symbionts in the past:
- Aal'drash, a hobgoblin traitor who turned on the Dhakaani Empire to side with the daelkyr, was given a tentacle whip and a tongueworm as part of his reward.
- Most daelkyr, including Belashyrra, the Lord of Eyes have a multitude of symbionts, including eye amulets, living breastplates, and tentacle whips.
- The Karrnathi army experimented with symbiont weapons after the close of the last war, and came into possession of a crawling gauntlet, a shadow sibling, a stormstalk, a tentacle whip, and a tongueworm. These symbionts bonded to many members of the Outguard, including Elidyr Brochann, Lirra Brochann, Osten, and Rhedyn.
- Members of the Mourning Circle, a Cult of the Dragon Below, possess symbionts. Led by daelkyr half-blood Erlomel d’Tharashk, the Mourning Circle all have a different symbiont created by Erlomel. Erlomel himself has a shadow sibling, while Bronwen Sor’ilah has a spellwurm, Antonin d’Tharashk has a tongueworm, Ghaarsh’t has a crawling gauntlet, and Severin vil Orandor possesses a tentacle whip.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Eberron Campaign Setting. Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, and James Wyatt (2004). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Magic of Eberron. Bruce R. Cordell, Stephen Schubert, and Chris Thomasson (2005). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3696-7.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lady Ruin. Tim Waggoner (2010). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-5625-9.
- ↑ Explorer's Handbook. David Noonan, Rich Burlew, and Frank Brunner (2005). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3691-6.
- ↑ Faiths of Eberron. Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, Ari Marmell, and C.A. Suleiman (2006). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3934-6.