Us nerds can be very nostalgic, often long after our favorite things are no longer supported.
Today I want to wax nostalgic on the world of Eberron, perhaps the coolest of Dungeons and Dragons campaign settings. In just a few hundred words I want to tell you why Eberron is so cool, why Eberron is actually important and significant, and if in the future there may be an Eberron 5e.
What is Eberron?
Eberron is a campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons. Eberron is set in a period of healing after devastating 102 year war that ravaged the continent of Khorvaire and split the mighty kingdom into 12 quarreling nations. It is called the Last War, for it was thought that when this war finally ended, the taste for bloodshed and battle would thankfully be over.
But while the continent of Khorvaire is technically at peace, the 12 nations through espionage and sabotage continue to vie for economic and political power, largely driven by the dynasty families, signaled by a dragonmark, which are unique, hereditary, arcane sigils that grant them magical power.
Eberron is designed to keep what’s best about the traditional D&D elements and races, but offer them in a world with a very differently toned setting. Eberron combines classic fantasy flavor, but adds pulp adventure elements and non-traditional fantasy technologies such as trains and mechanical sentient beings, all powered by magic.
This is where Eberron is WAY COOL. There are elements of the modern world that are seen in the Eberron setting. The great cities contain skyscraper castles, light posts line city streets, and transportation is handled via airship or the lightning rail, a system of carriages that connect city to city.
But Eberron isn’t driven by technological advancements, it’s driven by magic, which is built into the very fabric of society. The working class aren’t engineers, they are magic infused adepts, whose job it is to power Eberron with arcane energy. It’s really cool.
Of course, this gives rise to a host of new characters classes and options, such as the Artificer, who tinker and dabble with magic for the purpose of imbuing ordinary items with arcane “technology.” (Boom, I’m an artificer, so I just magically made this sword be +2 awesome!)
- Changelings are humanoids who are descended from doppelgängers, so they have some subtle shape-shifting qualities. Yup, that’s the party’s assassin all right.
- Kalashtar are humans who willingly fuse with incorporeal alien quori, and often lead the life of a monk. It’s weird, but you have to trust me this: they’re cool.
- Perhaps the most well known of Eberron’s new races, the Warforged are a race of living, sentient constructs composed of a blend of materials like stone, wood, and some type of metal. They were created as war machines, yet now serve as adventurers in the post-war “peaceful” era Eberron.
- Shifters descend from lycanthropes and have the ability to partially change form in order to embrace their animal aspect. Again, it’s cool.
Have I mentioned yet that Eberron is cool?
Why is Eberron Important?
But Eberron isn’t just cool. It’s important as well. Eberron was the winning entry in a $100,000 contest to select a new world for Dungeons & Dragons fans to play in.
In 2002 Wizards of the Coast launched a competition that asked freelance writers to submit a world for D&D. They received 11,000 entries. Keith Baker’s brief synopsis of Eberron was selected as a finalist, so he was asked to write 100+ pages to further flesh out the world. Baker at the time was inspired by Raiders of the Lost Arc, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other pulpy fun, so he mashed that with the fantasy magic of D&D and set it in a world that feels like the war weary time after WWI.
Long story short, 3 finalists had their submissions purchased by WotC, two were sealed in an underground dungeon somewhere, but Keith Baker’s Eberron emerged as the grand champion, and Eberron was shared with RPG fans everywhere, who loved it.
Over ten years later, self-publishing and freelance writing has become much more democratic, but for a then unknown Keith Baker to have his name on a D&D book was a HUGE deal, and a source of hope and inspiration for budding nerds everywhere. (Indeed, James Wyatt who served as Keith Baker’s co-writer for the official Eberron product is a former Methodist pastor who turned his writing hobby into a D&D gig.) Never give up on your dream, kids.
What is the future of Eberron?
With the latest edition if D&D (5e) being met with great reviews (our review is here), there is also renewed interest in Eberron. Fans want to know is Eberron will be updated and rereleased for this new generation of D&D.
In other words, when are we getting the cool Eberron stuff like jungle Drow, magic trains, Shifters, and Warforged? I want more halflings on dinosaurs, by golly!
There is no definitive word yet, but hint after hint has been dropped that Eberron will be making a triumphant return with the next three years. Eberron 5e would be cool, just as it was when it first burst on the scene.