In 2002 Wizards of the Coast held a contest searching for a new fantasy setting for Dungeons and Dragons. The winner was Eberron, and in 2004 it went into publication for D&D 3.5. Part of Eberronâ€™s appeal was that it took pretty much everything that had been created for the game up until that point and carved a little place for it in its setting, often in drastically different ways than had been presented before. Now with 4th edition things have changed, Eberron is no longer â€˜that setting that was created for the new edition.â€™ Will it still hold up as â€˜a fresh new approach to D&Dâ€™?
The Eberron playersâ€™ guide contains most of the information a player needs to make a character in an Eberron campaign. Including three new races, and one new class.
Changelings were originally printed in the back of the 4th edition Monster Manual, but have now been fully fleshed out. They have the ability to change shape in order to impersonate other humanoids. This race concerns me in that it seems to evidence the slight power-creep that happens every time a new supplement comes out. Their two powers are fine, nothing too crazy, even though their Changeling Disguise power would be incredibly strong in any other game, D&Dâ€™s focus on combat makes it a lot less impressive. Their second power, Changeling Trick, allows you to gain combat advantage from an enemy with a successful bluff check, again strong, but nothing too bad. My concern is with the ability scores: +2 to Charisma and +2 to Dexterity or Intelligence. Humans only get one +2 boost because of the flexibility of being able to put it into any ability, but now changelings get a similar boon, and they still get a free bump to charisma.
This is the first time we have seen the Kalashtar in this edition. Their racial abilities are also on the strong side, but compensate by being largely defensive. One allows them to make a saving throw first thing in the round rather than last, another adds a temporary boost to will defense. They are also able to speak telepathically at no cost. Flavor-wise Kalashtar are very interesting and cool, but I always felt they tread similar roleplaying space as elves, being graceful, wise visitors from another land. When the Kalashtar were written, they were largely created as psychic martial artists, but in this edition neither psions nor monks have been reprinted, making some of their flavor somewhat strained.
Warforged are another race that was hiding in the back of the Monster Manual waiting for this book to come out. There was a lot of speculation as to whether warforged would be powered down, since they have a lot of immunities and resistances. They were not. They were, as far as I can tell, powered up slightly. They donâ€™t seem unbalanced though, since most of their immunities apply to things that usually donâ€™t come up. Go to any gaming store and ask the assembled nerds to wax poetic on their dead D&D characters, Iâ€™ll bet you most of them died from being eaten by an 11 hit-die aberration than by starvation.
A new class, the artificer is an arcane leader. I havenâ€™t had much time to look over the higher level powers, but its progression seems balanced. With a strong focus on strengthening and protecting the party, with a little bit of healing and control on the side, the artificer seems to hold its own and retains a lot of its flavor from 3rd edition. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the artificer though, is its ability to â€˜power upâ€™ the partyâ€™s magic items, either by â€˜recharging themâ€™ or by giving weapons an implements a one-shot accuracy boost.
The book introduces a couple dozen new feats as well as new magic items and backgrounds. Luminaries in the feat category are the Dragonmarked feats, which often allow you to bypass prerequisites for ritual casting, Component Modification, which gives warforged temporary hit points based on how many weapons they have installed and Master Crafter which allows a character to create magic items of much higher level.
So is Eberron still the hip new kid on the block? Probably not, but that doesnâ€™t mean its lost any of its punch. The setting is rich and detailed and these new character options showcase that greatly. The biggest problem is that big chuncks of setting-relevant abilities, such as psionics and martial arts have not been printed yet, so unlike itâ€™s 3rd ed. Incarnation, Eberron feels, as of yet, incomplete. That said any game (regardless of setting) can benefit from the options presented in this book.
The Eberron Playerâ€™s Guide hereby receives 4 slices of meatloaf, or stars, or whatever weâ€™re doing now a days.