Type: d20 Campaign Setting
Company: Wizards of the Coast
Writer: Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, James Wyatt
Retail Price: $39.99
First ImpressionThis is a pretty typical looking tome - by Wizards of the Coast standards. It's solid with clean pages, excellent cover art, and the binding seems tight. It's one of those books that you really want to read just because it feels 'right' in your hands. I especially like that the cover is non-glossy. Glossy covers look strange to me, and this book just looks grittier and more 'real' by not being glossy.
I should also mention the circumstances of this book's publication. The Eberron campaign setting was the winner of a D&D Setting Search run by Wizards of the Coast. And to be honest, I'm rather disappointed. The setting search was an excellent opportunity for the company to grab up one one of the many fantastic ideas for lower-magic, gritty settings. Instead, Wizards of the Coast opted for yet another magic-saturated setting. Do not mistake me, this is a great setting. But there really was never a need for yet another high-magic setting.
IntroductionThe introduction to this tome gives an overview of what to expect from an Eberron campaign. Described as a setting of 'swashbuckling action and dark fantasy' this setting does live up to its name. Although there's nothing about this setting that really forces a game to be played with such a tone - since the basics of the d20 system still apply almost entirely. A brief description of the world of Eberron, as well as the tone of the setting also appear next. Ending the chapter is a section entitled "Ten Things You Need To Know." These things go over the things unique or important to an Eberron game, such as the Dragonshards, intrigue, tone and attitude, and the Dragonmark dynasties, to name a few. This chapter is a nice way to open the book, as it sets up the entire mood and how the game will be perceived by the reader. Don't skip this chapter.
Chapter One: Character RacesChapter 1 introduces new races, and gives an Eberron-specific treatment of the common races from the Player's Handbook, which are all present here in various forms and cultures. The new races are Changelings, Kalashtar, Shifters, and Warforged.
Kalashtar are the token player-ready psionic race of Eberron, while Changelings are descendants of dopplegangers. Shifters, likewise, are decendants of werecreatures - though they are a true race, not a cursed version of another race. The Shifters are a pretty cool race, capable of playing the part of shunned, but good-hearted, wanderer. But equally capable of playing the part of the evil, vindictive, barbaric beast.
Warforged are a race of constructs that have been given life in some weird magical creation process. They cannot breed, and as far as the players know, no new Warforged have been created since the Last War. This race is interesting, but with a long list of racial abilities they still do not have a level adjustment. In my opinion, to properly create a race designed and created to be effective combatants, these things are fairly weak. A tweak to their physical attributes and a level adjustment of +1 or more would have made them far meaner and more believable as war-fashioned monsters of the battlefield that they were intended to be. But nonetheless, the Warforged are still a very interesting and fun race to play, or have in the game at all.
Ending the chapter is a discussion on the various cultures of Eberron -- what classes, skills, feats, and prestige classes are common to each culture. This seems like a lot of useless information. I am fully capable of figuring out that a sea-side culture has a strong tendency toward the Profession (Fisherman) skill. The brief synopses of the cultures is nice, but the extra feat, skill, and class information is unnecessary at best, and boring filler at worst.