If you’re an Eberron fan and a 4th Edition player than there’s really no doubt that you’ve picked up the Player’s Guide today or are planning on picking it up in the next few days. I’m going to leave reviewing this book to other people this time, though I do recommend going over to Geek’s Dream Girl and checking out a selection of early questions that she answered about what’s in the book, instead what I’m going to present are the reasons why everyone who doesn’t already own this book is going to want to buy it!
The truth is that I’ve never played in an Eberron game, in fact I’ve never even played in a Forgotten Realms campaign save for one preview adventure of LFR at D&D Experience 2008, so the setting specific Campiagn Guides that come out are not books that I pay much attention to. However, I own and regularly use my copy of the Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide and I anticipate just as much use will come from the Eberron Player’s Guide. What I’m referring to is typically referred to as mining, and it’s one of the best things you can do for your campaign.
If you’re not all that familiar with mining, or exactly what it means, I’ll explain a bit about how I’ve incorporated the Forgotten Realms rules into my ongoing campaign world. The most obvious and simplest things to mine are the new PC races, in the case of FR we have full rules for Drow and new rules for Genasi which I think are both great options for a player to have and easily incorporated into any game world. The next obvious choice was the Swordmage class, which is still probably my favorite defender classes, and although it has a specific place and flavor in the FR setting it can easily work in your campaign while giving players more options (which is always a good thing). What surprised me from the FR Player’s Guide was when one of my players asked if he could use the new multi-class Spellscar rules for his character. I was unfamiliar with the Spellscar concept and the Spellplague as a whole, but my inclination was to say “yes” and run with it from there. That player happens to be playing a githyanki character (from the Astral Sea naturally), so what’s developed from there is an unknown arcane plague that seems to be effecting several gith in the game and granting them bonus arcane powers. Simply by allowing a player to mine from a different campaign setting, an entirely new aspect of my game world has begun to develop! Most of the time you can’t pay to get quality gaming of that caliber!
Now onto the new content in the 4E Eberron Player’s Guide! The races in this book just make it worth getting on their own. The Changeling manages to be cool and really give you that doppelganger feeling without becoming cheesy or overpowered. This race opens up a lot of roleplaying opportunities right from the beginning. Hell, they can start in the party with everyone thinking they’re a different race entirely! The real advantage is that the Changeling doesn’t feel like something specific to Eberron at all, whereas the second race called the Kalashtar are the opposite. These guys are humanoid refugees from the realm of dreams, which could work in any game but it might really feel like you’re just yanking something out of a world to some place it doesn’t belong. It might be worth it though, because of their short-range telepathy and bonus to resilience versus dazed and dominated condition they begin to stand out from the other races a bit more. Neither of them can hold much of a candle to the last race in the book though: the Warforged are just plain kickass.
In my current ongoing game world there are no known operating Warforged, however after reading this book I’m really going to have to change that. Sure we’ve already seen them as a playable race in the Dragon article, but the Eberron PG gives us some new paragon paths for the race and a whole list of awesome component upgrades that can turn your favorite sentient construct into a walking tank of death. If there’s one thing in this book that you look for, I’d say it’s definitely the Warforged…
…or maybe its the Artificer! I’ve had the pleasure of having a playtest artificer in my game from the beginning (yes, he laments not having any Warforged around to tinker with) but Wizards was clearly holding out on us from the start with that one. I notice some minor tweaks and fixes to the class, but most of all is the complete power list that includes selections for the Tinkerer build, including every level of daily powers having at least one construct summoning power. Stack that on top of the new Clockwork Engineer paragon path and you could have an artificer with a whole army of badass constructs in tow that would scare the crap out of any DM!
That brings me to the next part you’ll want to mine out of this book: the Paragon Paths. From a paragon path dedicated to being an alchemist, the Chameleon path for changelings, the Warforged Juggernaut path for Warforged, all the way to the ridiculously and insanely cool Self-Forged paragon path that lets a non-warforged artificer character slowly add on to themselves in hopes of becoming more like their favorite race. I mean, seriously, you get a battlefist melee weapon that you can eventually swing around on a chain as a reach weapon. What more could you want? These are the kinds of things we used to create with house rules in previous editions of D&D, right there in all their published splendor!
There is a whole selection of dragonmark paragon paths, in addition to the dragonmark feats themselves, which are really just a bonus on top of everything else. They don’t make sense right out of the book for every campaign, but it wouldn’t be hard to incorporate them if any of your players want to use them. Along the same lines several of the new Epic Destinies are very Eberron specific, such as the one focusing entirely on the Mournland, but the Dispossessed Champion is one that can fit any game and is actually a niche I haven’t seen tackled by any other epic destinies so far, that of a fallen leader regaining his followers and rebuilding a previous tribe/clan/army.
Aside from the pantheon specific channel divinity feats and dragonmark feats, there are actually a lot of other feats that mention Eberron backgrounds which I would gladly allow into my game because they bring greater definition to particular races. Curiously there are no Changeling feats, but two doppelganger ones, which I’ll chalk up to a simple typo / editting error. I was extremely surprised to find the short list of new weapons were all very intriguing, specifically the halfling based melee and thrown weapons (Talenta) and new drow weapons all of which I will gladly steal for my game world. On top of that this book gives us 17 new Alchemy formulas (thank God), including items like clockwork bombs and tethercords. The new rods, staffs, and wands are nice additions most of which are subtley geared towards artificer uses, but there are also some new totems that helps fill out the lower number of them since they only recently showed up in the PHB2. Last but not least of the new equipment I’ll mention again the Warforged components such as the delver’s light, adamantine plating, armbow, and possibly creepiest of all the final messenger – a little mechanical servant that hides inside of you and can be sent to deliver various kinds of messages. Then last but not least is a handful of new rituals, some of which are Eberron-specific but most of them can easily be used in any game.
While the setting specific player’s guide books may have the most use for someone gaming in their intended setting, for me they provide an invaluable add on to my existing game world in ways that I can’t even imagine while planning my game. The interesting aspect for me, and I hope for my players also, is to see how the features we like from various settings can be adapted and add on to the game world we are playing in. The other things that I really enjoy about it is that these books allow my players to effect change on the game world based upon ideas they like and want to use, it’s more fun for them and it even makes being a DM a little bit easier at the same time! I will most likely be using all of the various Player’s Guide books that come out for 4th Edition even if I never run an adventure in any of the settings, especially if the next one released is Dark Sun!