Setting at a Glance: Eberron

I had a lot of players ask me for information about Eberron & what sets the setting apart from others, so here’s a quick glimpse into the setting; a tiny taste to see if it’s to a player’s liking before jumping into a game.

Key Information

(Adapted from the Introduction of Rising from the Last War)

  • The Last War has ended- sort of. The continent of Khorvaire has been wracked by war for nearly a century, until a single day two years ago that forced every world leader to pause. On the Day of Mourning, a magical cataclysm wiped the city-state of Cyre off the map, transforming it and the surrounding countryside into a mist-filled, spell-scarred wasteland simply called the Mournland. Nobody knows exactly what caused the Mourning, though the over-use of War Magic is the usual explanation. Shock and fear brought the world leaders to the peace table, and it became clear to each nation that victory was impossible; the best one could hope for was a shaky peace. Now, two years later, the world still reels from the damage wreaked during the war, and tensions between enemies still seethe.
  • Dragonmarked Dynasties. Barons of commerce and industry, houses of Dragonmarked Families bear hereditary arcane marks that are passed down to certain members of the family. These complex, glowing birthmarks grant magical abilities, status within the family, and suspicion from the everyday citizen. The Dragonmarked houses are supposedly neutral, and technically not citizens of any nation on Khorvaire, but their patriarchs, matriarchs, scions & various operatives have many different plots & schemes in the air at a time.
  • A World of Magic. “Wide Magic, not High Magic” is a phrase often used to describe the magic level of the setting. Eberron’s inhabitants are familiar with lots of common magic items, robots being members of society, hopping into magical airships or lighting trains, etc. But while magic is widespread, high-level magic is still remarkable and surprising to the average citizen.
  • New Races. Beyond having new player races for previous D&D players (like Shifters & Changelings), several races are young in the setting, specifically the Warforged, a race of magical constructs built for use by House Cannith for the Last War. Similarly, the Dhakaani Goblins are recently citizens of their own kingdom, though they served as mercenaries during the Last War before turning on their employees to seize their own territory. There’s a lot of changes to the Post-War World that the general population is grappling with.
  • D&D with a Twist. Most everything in the Monster Manual and Players’ Handbook can be found in Eberron, but probably not usually in the places you’ll expect. Ancient elders are raised after death into good-aligned Liches and are worshipped by the Aereni Elves, Halflings domesticate velociraptors in the Talenta Plains, and Hobgoblin generals ride into war on the backs of armor-plated war tigers. And these are some of the more mundane examples – imagine sailing through the fallout-stricken fog of the Mournland on an Elemental Airship, dodging mutated spells and killer rogue Warforged.

Unique Places to Visit

  • Sharn, City of Towers. A huge, sprawling metropolis with towering skyscrapers, floating skyskiffs. An entire campaign can take place in the City of Towers and still fail to touch every secret obscured by in the shadows of the city’s spires.
  • Korranberg. One of the largest cities of the Zilargo Gnomes, home to the largest repository of knowledge on the entire continent of Khorvaire. Just don’t stir up trouble or youl
  • The Talenta Plains. A savannah of golden grass, inhabited by halflings who domesticate dinosaurs. What’s not to like about a masked hobbit charging up on a velociraptor or a pterodactyl?
  • The Mournland. The epicenter of the magical cataclysm that brought an abrupt end to the Last War, the Mournland is huge, magical fallout zone, like the Glowing Sea from Fallout 4. The Mournland is a scar on the surface on the world, a physical manifestation of the War’s effects. It’s not empty, either; there are many secrets for bold, crazy, or desperate adventurers to explore.

Thematic Thoughts

Post-War Spy Stuff
Obviously, there’s a direct Cold-War, post-World War II parallel going on in Eberron. Huge cataclysm wipes a city off the map, scaring politicians into a tense peace? In Eberron, Magic = Technology, and the Mourning is the Nuclear Bomb. A lot of pulpy post-war storylines can structurally be adapted to Eberron; this world . Sharn is full of “Inquisitives” – the in-universe name for Private Detectives, with all the tropes that come with them.

Inspiration List:

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Sin City
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Casablanca
  • The Saboteur (video game), but all the blimps are elemental airships
  • More but I’m spacing out right now lol.

Mage-punk?
There’s also a Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk undercurrent in the setting, too. There are [magic] robots, [magic] clones, [magic] flying ships, a huge class divide in the [magic] metropolis of Sharn; a city reminiscent of Star Wars’ Courscant or the dark, rainy skyscrapers of Blade Runner. The Dragonmarked Houses specifically remind me of the rich upper-class of Altered Carbon. And speaking of Blade Runner – you can run an AI/Android storyline with disguised Warforged running amok.

Inspiration List:

  • Blade Runner
  • Jurassic Park
  • Altered Carbon

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