Fifteen years ago, Wizards of the Coast published the very first book for Eberron, a campaign setting created by game designer Keith Baker. Submitted by Baker for an official contest to establish a new setting for Dungeons & Dragons, Eberron was chosen out of more than ten thousand entries.
Fifteen years later, Wizards has announced a new addition to the Eberron family of books, and the first official 5th Edition sourcebook for the material. Eberron: Rising from the Last War drops on November 19th, bringing with it new races, subraces, classes, and monsters.
What is Eberron?
Ever since my first adventure in Eberron over a decade ago, it has been my absolute favorite setting. However, despite the setting’s long history, many gamers are only recently hearing about it. So I thought I’d take a moment to dive into the very essence of Eberron and all the things that make it so special.
Eberron is a high-fantasy setting of high-flying adventure and pulp noir-inspired intrigue. Imagine a world that runs on magic, with elemental-powered airships, trains that run on lightning, where city streets are lit by arcane lanterns. This is the world of Eberron.
This is a world which underwent an industrial revolution using the limitless power of magic rather than steam. Arcane technological wonders are the norm here, and though the people are better for it, the land has been ravaged by war and tensions are still high.
The Races of Eberron
Eberron comes packed with four new races, all original to the setting. The constructed Warforged, the bestial Shifter, the enigmatic Changeling, and the spiritual Kalashtar.
The Warforged are perhaps one of the most interesting of the new races. The great war that ravaged the continent of Khorvaire raged for over a century. During the last decades of the war, one of the dragonmarked houses, House Cannith developed a method of creating living war constructs. These weapons, known as Warforged, are sentient creatures made of metal, wood, and other materials and brought to life with powerful magic. After the Last War ended, the warforged were granted the same rights and privileges as other races in Eberron. To this day, though, the secrets of their creation are closely guarded by House Cannith.
Shifters are humanoids believed to be the descendants of lycanthropes. There are several types of shifter, each embodying attributes of their specific bestial lineage. Though they are not full lycanthropes, they possess the ability to shift, amplifying their animalistic features. For some, this may mean growing claws or fangs with which to rend enemies. Others might sprout wings the let them glide short distances, become incredibly fast, or toughen their skin against incoming attacks.
Changelings are curious beings. Descended from doppelgangers, Changelings lack the ability to drastically transform. However, they are capable of changing their appearance at will. Any face, any voice, any body type. This ability doesn’t affect clothing and equipment, but it’s a powerful tool for a thief, assassin, or spy. Plus, they make a great face for the party. Literally, any face the party wants!
The Kalashtar are a compound race. The Quori spirits from the plane of dreams known as Dal Quor merged with willing human bodies and souls. They are a reserved, monastic people whose greatest foe is an entity from their realm known as the Dreaming Dark.
The Dragonmarked Houses
In Eberron, members of most races may manifest what is known as a dragonmark. Like magical birthmarks, these dragonmarks pass through distinct bloodlines and are believed to be manifestations of the mysterious Draconic Prophecy.
These lineages formed the great Dragonmarked Houses of Khorvaire. There are thirteen unique houses, most with monopolies on different types of business throughout the continent and each with far-reaching influence. They’re basically Eberron’s version of mega-corporations. They control nearly every aspect of life in Khorvaire, and there is almost no activity, political or criminal, that can’t be traced back to one or more of the houses.
Sharn: The City of Towers
The gleaming jewel of Khorvaire. Sharn, commonly known as the City of Towers, is exactly as the moniker implies. Built on a cliff above the Dagger River, this teeming megalopolis is built vertically, layered upon itself, with towers that reach beyond the clouds.
Home to hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, Sharn is a cultural melting pot where an adventurer can find anything they’re looking for – legal or otherwise.
With the city’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens living in the topmost levels, societies dregs all the way down in the Cogs, a base of operations for every dragonmarked house, and dozens of criminal organizations, it’s more than possible to run an entire campaign in Sharn without ever leaving its streets.
The reason for the end of The Last War. During the last great battle of the war, a magical cataclysm wiped the entire nation of Cyre off the map. What remains is a barren wasteland scarred by aberrant arcane forces that is actively hostile to all life. From sentient roaming fireballs that chase you down, to battling armies frozen in time and giant crabs made from the corpses of fallen soldiers, The Mournland is a dangerous place for even the most experienced adventurers.
Nobody knows how or why the cataclysm – now known as the Day of Mourning – happened, or who could have been behind it. But one thing was clear; if the war continued, it would happen again. It was this fear that led to the signing of the Treaty of Thronehold, which ended the war and has kept a shaky peace throughout Khorvaire for the last two years.
Ready for Adventure?
All in all, Eberron is a high-concept setting that never ceases to provide a fun time at the table, and Eberron: Rising from the Last War is packed with all the information you’ll need to hit the ground running, including a level one adventure set in Sharn!
I highly recommend picking up a copy of this sourcebook, if only to encourage Wizards of the Coast to continue experimenting with new settings and material. I’m confident that once you get a taste for Eberron, you’ll want to dive in head-first.
Eberron: Rising from the Last War releases on November 19th online and in stores across America. Come on down to Pair A Dice Games in Vista to pick up your copy and immerse yourself in a world of adventure and intrigue.