June 30, 2021 9 min read
Author:Rhenn Anthony Taguiam
Meta Description:November 2019 finally brought Eberron to D&D 5e, transporting adventurers to Khorvaire as Warforged, Artificers, and Shifters. However, just what is Eberron?
Imagine exploring a world after a destructive war where magic is just as prevalent as skyships, trains, and other mechanized beings. Players interested in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign with a darker approach to fantasy steampunk might want to consider using Eberronas a setting.
For the uninitiated, Eberron is one of the many campaign settings for D&D. Courtesy of Keith Baker, Eberron officially entered the D&Dscene in 2004 as a playable setting for D&D v3.5. Wizards of the Coast eventually made Eberron a playable setting for D&D 4e,and now D&D 5e thanks to the Eberron: Rising from the Last War campaign guide.
However, just what is Eberron? What exactly makes it an intriguing setting? What exactly sets it apart from other popular campaign settings such as Forgotten Realmsand Dragonlance?
Baker describes Eberron in its initial conception as a setting inspired by pulp adventure with a dash of neo noir and dark fantasy, with inspirations ranging from The Lord of the Rings, The Maltese Falcon, and Indiana Jones.
From an explorer’s point of view, Eberron is a world filled with untouched regions and realms, political intrigue, nations scarred by a tragic war, and where magic has been worked into science. Unlike other campaign settings, players can encounter fast-travelling lightning rails, wands in duels, and arcane magic so reliable that it’s been embedded into society. Usual Eberron imagery comprises adventurers on skyships, Warforged and ancient machines, as well as magic modernized by the Renaissance.
Here are some of the most important elements that shape the world of Eberron:
The Last War remains an ever-present element of daily life in Eberron, as events that had happened in that century-long conflict will forever leave a mark in Khorvaire.
To summarize, the Last War was a cataclysmic conflict between the countries of Karrnath, Thrane, Breland, Aundair, and Cyre that ended with the Day of the Mourning. In this event, a magical holocaust had destroyed the entire nation of Cyre, leaving only the Mournland - a barren husk of what the mighty nation had been.
What caused the Day of the Mourning was unknown, and despite the Treaty of Thronehold ending the Last War, nations in Khorvaire know something is still amiss.
Players often describe the arcane in Eberron as “high magic,” but Baker wants to call it “wide magic.” In Eberron, Baker explains that: if magic can work in a reliable and predictable manner, then it only makes sense for magic to be a tool much like scientific discoveries.
As such, Eberron is home to various technological and arcane developments that most citizens of Khorvaire use on a daily basis. These include skyships, tech-based galleons, the lightning rail, and even the Warforged in the Last War.
Unlike conventional divinity in most 5esettings, divinity in Eberron tends to be more complex as they have a wide variety of beliefs. As such, characters can worship all manner of deities and spiritual forces depending on their background. For instance:
Dragonmarked Houses have emerged hundreds of years ago and have been considered as physical manifestations of the Draconic Prophecy. It's said that the Draconic Prophecy serves as a "record" of everything that's been happening in Eberron, recorded by the dragons in the unexplored continent of Argonnessen. Unfortunately, Dragonmarked Houses and the Dragonmarks they bear are still being studied by these dragons, and not much is known about their origins and their purpose.
However, what's known is that these Houses, all of which are families of Khorvaire's seven most-common races, grant certain magical abilities to their users. As such, the Dragonmarked Houses eventually made a foothold of themselves in the continent, with each House usually having a near-monopoly on certain industries in Khorvaire. And whether they bear ill omen or mark the beginning of a new age, no one knows.
Players and DMs interested in playing an Eberron campaign can encounter a wide range of new concepts that can give their adventures a new spin completely different from conventional settings. These concepts, most of which relate to the setting, have been translated into their corresponding mechanics.
As such, Eberron offers tables not just new monsters and adventures, but new races, classes and class options, as well as unique story hooks they can use to fuel their adventures.
Eberron introduces new races that populate the world, each of which offering new twists and perspectives to adventuring parties and to the universe at large. These races range from psionic humanoids, shapeshifters, weretouched, and even sentient machines.
Aside from these four new races are societies and civilizations with races largely different from stereotypes we encounter in most fantasy stories. Eberron players can expect some changes in these D&Draces:
Eberron’s complex society is filled with both conventional and unconventional concepts from most D&D 5esettings. Aside from the staple set of classes in 5eis a new class completely unique to Eberron, further differentiating this high-action and intriguing campaign setting from other popular locations.
Aside from the Artificer, Eberron presents a wide range of options to make characters more unique than characters from other settings. For instance, players have the option to be a part of one of the Dragonmarked Houses, with their chosen Mark providing them with different abilities and character traits. There are a total of 14 Dragonmarked houses in Eberron, each attached to a particular race.
Parties also gain access to Group Patrons, which allow parties to have a shared background amongst each other. These backgrounds can help them flesh out their stories much easier, as they’re coming from common ground.
Thanks to Eberron’s wide range of inspirations, DMs and parties can find stories in almost any aspect of the universe they want to look into. Baker describes Eberron’s stories as falling into a “spectrum,” which can go from adventurous, to mysterious, to outright dangerous. Story hooks for adventures and campaigns can include:
Khorvaire and the rest of Eberron can be quite the exciting setting for D&D 5ecampaigns hoping to tell more serious and compelling stories. DMs can transport their players to unveil the intrigue inside Dragonmarked Houses, uncover the mysteries of the Mournland, or unearth the many other secrets of Eberron.