Us nerds are very nostalgic, often long after our favorite things are no longer supported. So, let’s wax nostalgic on the world of Eberron, perhaps the coolest of all Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) campaign settings.
In just a few hundred words I want to tell you why Eberron is so cool, as well as why Eberron is actually important and significant. Spoiler: We’ll also talk about how Eberron will also be supported again with new products.
What is Eberron?
Eberron is a campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons. It’s set in a period after a devastating 102 year war that ravaged the continent of Khorvaire, splitting the mighty kingdom into 12 quarreling nations. It is called the Last War because 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 continue to vie for economic and political power through espionage and sabotage. This is largely driven by the dynasty families and 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 setting that is toned very differently. Eberron combines classic fantasy flavor, then layers on pulp adventure elements and non-traditional fantasy technologies such as trains and mechanical sentient beings, all powered by magic.
Eberron is COOL. There are elements of the modern world that are seen in the Eberron setting. The great cities contain skyscraper castles and light posts line city streets. 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. Again, it’s cool.
Of course, this gives rise to a host of new character classes and options, such as the Artificer, who tinker and dabble with magic for the purpose of imbuing ordinary items with arcane “technology.”
There are new races as well, which serve to complement the elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins who traditionally populate D&D settings.
- 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 races is the Warforged, 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.
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 Ark, 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, and Keith Baker’s Eberron emerged as the grand champion. Thus, Eberron was shared with RPG fans everywhere and they loved it.
A decade+ 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 back then, 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 and Magic: The Gathering gig.) Never give up on your dream, kids.
What is the future of Eberron?
With D&D 5e continuing to explode in popularity, there has been renewed interest in Eberron. WotC further stoked the flames with an unofficial Eberron digital only test product on dmsguild.com.
That test proved popular, so there will be an official Eberron hardcover in fall 2019! In other words, us nerd will soon be getting the cool Eberron stuff like jungle Drow, magic trains, Shifters, and Warforged. And you should know: Eberron also features halflings on dinosaurs!
I have no doubt that Eberron 5e will be just as cool as when it first burst on the scene way back when. It releases in November 2019, but you can pre-order Eberron 5e here.