TEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EBERRON
Every Dungeon Master and Player needs to know and remember these facts about the world of Eberron.
1. If it exists in D&D, then it has a place in Eberron. A monster or spell or magic item from the core rulebooks might feature a twist or two to account for Eberron’s tone and attitude, but otherwise everything in the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual has a place somewhere in Eberron. Also, this is the first D&D setting built entirely from the v.3.5 rules, which enabled us to blend rules and story in brand-new ways.
2. Tone and attitude. The campaign combines traditional medieval D&D fantasy with swashbuckling action and dark adventure. Alignments are relative gauges of a character or creature’s viewpoint, and not absolute barometers of affiliation and action; nothing is exactly as it seems. Alignments are blurred, so that it’s possible to encounter an evil silver dragon or a good vampire. Traditionally good-aligned creatures may wind up opposed to the heroes, while well-known agents of evil might provide assistance when it’s least expected. To help capture the cinematic nature of the swordplay and spellcasting, we’ve added action points to the rules mix. This spendable, limited resource allows players to alter the outcome of dramatic situations and have their characters accomplish the seemingly impossible.
3. A world of magic. The setting supposes a world that developed not through the advance of science, but by the mastery of arcane magic. This concept allows for certain conveniences unimagined in other medieval timeframes. The binding and harnessing of elemental creatures makes airships and rail transport possible. A working class of minor mages uses spells to provide energy and other necessities in towns and cities. Advances in magic item creation have led to everything from self-propelled farming implements to sentient, free-willed constructs.
4. A world of adventure. From the steaming jungles of Aerenal to the colossal ruins of Xen’drik, from the towering keeps of Sharn to the blasted hills and valleys of the Demon Wastes, Eberron is a world of action and adventure. Adventures can and should draw heroes from one exotic location to another across nations, continents, and the entire world. The quest for the Mirror of the Seventh Moon may take the heroes from a hidden desert shrine to a ruined castle in the Shadow Marches and finally to a dungeon deep below the Library of Korranberg. Through the use of magical transportation, heroes can reach a wider range of environments over the course of an adventure, and thus deal with a diverse assortment of monsters and challenges.
5. The Last War has ended—sort of. The Last War, which plunged the continent of Khorvaire into civil war more than a century ago, ended with the signing of the Treaty of Thronehold and the establishment of twelve recognized nations occupying what was once the kingdom of Galifar. At least overtly, the peace has held for almost two years as the campaign begins. The conflicts, the anger, and the pain of the long war remain, however, and the new nations seek every advantage as they prepare for the inevitable next war that will eventually break out on the continent.
6. The Five Nations. The human-dominated civilizations on the continent of Khorvaire trace a lineage to the ancient kingdom of Galifar, which was made up of five distinct regions, or nations. These were Aundair, Breland, Cyre, Karrnath, and Thrane. Four of these survive to the present day as independent countries; Cyre was destroyed before the start of the campaign. The devastated territory it once occupied is now known as the Mournland. A common epithet among the people of Khorvaire is “By the Five Nations,” or some version thereof. The Five Nations refers to the ancient kingdom of Galifar and harkens back to a legendary time of peace and prosperity.
7. A world of intrigue. The war is over, and the nations of Khorvaire now try to build a new age of peace and prosperity. Ancient threats linger, however, and the world desperately needs heroes to take up the cause. Nations compete on many levels—economic, political influence, territory, magical power—each looking to maintain or improve its current status by any means short of all-out war. Espionage and sabotage services create big business in certain circles. The dragonmarked houses, churches both pure and corrupt, crime lords, monster gangs, psionic spies, arcane universities, royal orders of knights and wizards, secret societies, sinister masterminds, dragons, and a multitude of organizations and factions jockey for position in the afterglow of the Last War. Eberron teems with conflict and intrigue.
8. Dragonmark dynasties. The great dragonmarked families are the barons of industry and commerce throughout Khorvaire and beyond. Their influence transcends political boundaries, and they remained mostly neutral during the Last War. While not technically citizens of any nation, the matriarchs and patriarchs of each house live in splendor within their enclaves and emporiums located throughout Khorvaire. These dynastic houses of commerce derive their power from the dragonmarks—unique, hereditary arcane sigils that manifest on certain individuals within the family, granting them limited but very useful magical abilities associated with the trade guilds the family controls.
9. Dragonshards. Ancient legends and creation myths describe Eberron as a world in three parts: the ring above, the subterranean realm below, and the land between. Each of these world sections is tied to a great dragon of legend—Siberys, Khyber, and Eberron. Each section of the world produces stones and crystals imbued with arcane power—dragonshards. With dragonshards, dragonmarks can be made more powerful, elementals can be controlled and harnessed, and magic items of all sorts can be crafted and shaped. These shards, however, are rare and difficult to come by, making them expensive and often the goals of great quests and adventures.
10. New races. In addition to the common player character races found in the Player’s Handbook, players can choose to play changelings, kalashtar, shifters, and warforged in Eberron. Changelings are a race that evolved from the crossing of doppelgangers and humans, giving them minor shapechanging abilities. Kalashtar are planar entities merged with human hosts who are capable of becoming powerful wielders of psionic power. (To fully utilize the kalashtar and other psionic elements of the world, we strongly recommend the use of the Expanded Psionics Handbook.) Shifters developed from the mixing of humans and lycanthropes, a union that grants them limited bestial abilities and feral instincts. The warforged are sentient constructs created during the Last War who developed free will and a desire to improve their position in the world.
And now, as the lightning rail pulls into the station at First Tower, it’s time to explore the world of Eberron and see what adventures await us. Grab your sword, gather your companions, and make sure you’re ready—for anything.
MOVIES TO INSPIRE YOU
Movies inspired us as we were creating this world, and they can help put you in the mood and mindset for a rousing Eberron adventure. The following films are just a few examples of movies that have elements of the tone and attitude we’ve packed into this campaign setting:
Brotherhood of the Wolf
The Maltese Falcon
The Name of the Rose
Pirates of the Caribbean
Raiders of the Lost Ark