Overview: The DM companion book to the Eberron Player’s Guide, the Eberron Campaign Guide presents all of the information a DM could need to run a 4th Edition D&D game in the unique and interesting fantasy world of Eberron. Unlike the Player’s Guide, this is a book that mostly only DMs who want to run a game in Eberron are going to want to buy. However, what I did not expect is that reading this book would instill me with the insane desire to play D&D in a setting I was not really interested in beforehand.
In-Depth: As I stated in my review of the Eberron Player’s Guide, “the setting specific Campiagn Guides that come out are not books that I pay much attention to.” However, after reading through this book I am now hotly anticipating the first time I get to play or run a game on the continent of Khorvaire. If you’re not familiar with the story, back in 2002 Wizards of the Coast ran a competition to design your own setting with the hopes of finding something fresh and new to help boost the 3rd edition of D&D. I know Dave at least worked on an entry for the contest, but thankfully the very polite and friendly Keith Baker ended up winning with his entry that became the world of Eberron.
What’s so special and interesting about Eberron? I would actually say that there is nothing too special about it, which is exactly why it is so compelling. Nothing in the setting feels out of place or gimmicky. It uses many of the classic elements of Dungeons & Dragons in organic but unfamiliar ways mixed with a healthy dose of dark mystery, swashbuckling adventure, and magical technology. I’ve read through the 3E Eberron book almost exclusively to learn about Warforged and Artificers for the sole purpose of stealing them for my own games, and as you know I’m a big advocate of liberally mining the 4E Eberron Player’s Guide, but I have to say that while reading through this Campaign Guide I found myself more and more wanting to modify my game to fit into Eberron instead.
I originally intended to write another “Mining of…” review for this book, but when it comes to a setting you have locations, specific characters, and organizations which are more specific and difficult to simply yank out of the book for your homebrew game. Also, Wizards beat me to the punch with a small section right in the front of the book titled “Loot this book!” which mentions the savage/less demonic gnolls, ancestor-worshipping elves, eladrin cities in the feywild, and the magically devastated Mournland as suggestions for what you might want to use in your own game. Personally the piece that I want to loot the most is the cross-continent Lightning Rail! The fact of the matter is, once you’ve read each of these concepts you don’t really need the book to use them in your game. However, I think that the world of Eberron merges so well with the 4th Edition rules that everyone should play at least one game in this setting to experience it.
So many things seem to just line up when it comes to Eberron in 4E, whether its the less powerful magic items and Eberron’s prevalence of lesser magics, or the “every race is special” concept that plays nicely with Eberron’s various nationalities. The Halflings of the Talenta plains are far more intriguing to me than the standard Halflings in the PHB, and the same goes for the gnomes of Zilargo or the Warforged from the Mournland. Each race really begins to shine on its own when viewed as a part of this setting with all of the supporting mechanics behind it. In 4th edition it feels like every character has tricks up their sleeve and special abilities which I feel adds to the high adventure and sleek mystery that comes hand-in-hand with this setting.
This book has single-handedly changed my opinion: I will be playing in Eberron sometime soon. Now I’m going back and instead of just mining the Player’s Guide, I’m looking at what I would use to create a character to fit into this world.
Details: The Eberron Campaign Guide is a very well put together book and the piece that stands out the most to me is the artwork. From the Lord of Blades painting by Wayne Reynolds on the cover through the entire book the artwork really puts you into the world of action that is Eberron. Nothing quite excites me like seeing a Warforged with a bigass sword hanging from an airship over an oncoming lightning rail train. My main complaint with the book is that I like to see monsters all in one place, like they were in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, but the monsters in this book are spread out and presented with their accompanying nations/locales. It does, on the other hand, come with a classic fold-up map of Khorvaire in the back which is always a welcome addition to a campaign setting. The Eberron Campaign Guide was released yesterday and is available now.