How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Eberron
“There has never been an escape from Dreadhold. Dead or alive.” These are the words Warden Helbish d’Kundarak greets every inmate with when they enter the halls of Dreadhold. For last one hundred and fifty years, the doors have closed and the locks have turned inside the island prison. Just off the most northern point of Cape Far, the two-acre bare isle holds some of the most infamous characters on the face of Eberron. Before the Last War, King Jarot ir’Wynarn put national security at the top of his list, investing in extensive military spending. But he also realized that individuals had the ability to disrupt the national unity and peace he had established. Every once in a while, he would receive reports of a prison break, or a violent escape from Sentinel custody, and he would worry. How could people feel safe in Galifar if they had to worry about madmen and villains roaming the countryside?
He quietly sent envoys to House Cannith and Kundarak, and in the coming months, they sent him schematics and designs, which slowly but surely, became the layout for Dreadhold. But the king had a dilemma: where to put it? None of the Five Nations would knowingly approve of a maximum-security prison being built on their soil. Then, in the midst of negotiations with the Princes of Lhazaar, he looked at a map, and saw a tiny speck at the tip of Cape Far. He asked what it was, and the seafarers shrugged, saying it had never been occupied. Construction began within in a month, and within two years, the greatest man-made prison in the world was built.
“Prison” evokes the shape of a building with bars on the windows and strong iron gates. Though there is an outer ring of towers with windows for the patrolling guards, none of the prisoners are held there. Within the stone ring is a solid cube made of an alloy of adamantine and steel. Nothing enters the cube naturally; not light, not air, not sound. The only way to leave is through a powerful teleportation sigil, armed with triggers tied to blood, password, and passkey. Within this structure are the 50 permanent cells, guards’ quarters, and an infirmary. Prisoners are permanently in solitary confinement, with no excercize yard or cafeteria. Every door is triple-enforced steel, every lock is personally crafted by a Silver Key, every wall coated with anti-magic runes. At the center of it all, there are two key figures. Warden Helbish, a master artificer (Heir of Siberys), maintains the arcane and structural fortifications of the building. Sut Kayan is the prison’s herbalogist, keeping the prisoners docile (and in some cases, sedated), but she also was born with a natural psionic ability. At all times, her brainwaves act as a chaff, preventing powerful energies from pooling in the minds of some of the prisoners, preventing the focus necessary for psionic, arcane, and divine manifestations.
So who resides in these impenetrable cells? With executions being fairly common throughout the five nations, these are the people who their governments can’t afford to kill. Some would become marytrs, some would be fodder for rogue necromancers, and some simply can’t die. The staff breaks down their prisoners into three categories: ghouls, fireballs, and goats. “Ghoul” refers to the criminally insane and the monsterous, a collection of screeching lunatics with formidable powers, arcane or otherwise. “Fireball” refers to the overwhelmingly powerful criminals, including some with aberrant dragonmarks. “Goats” refers to scapegoats, people who had to stand trial and were convicted for crimes they did not commit, to shift the blame from someone else. These include political dissidents.