Thoughts: Eberron Campaign Guide

For the sake of completeness I thought I’d chime in on the Eberron Campaign Guide. I held off picking up the book for a long while as I was currently deep within my current campaign. So I did not want to jump over to Eberron just yet. Additionally I wanted to hold off on shipping overseas, so I waited until I was on holiday to pick it up.

A long while back I posted my thoughts on the player’s guide for the Eberron setting. Overall I liked it and thought it a good buy for people wanting to get into the campaign setting. I’ve currently ported the artificer class over into my home brew campaign as something the players can choose if they so desire. I’ve gotten a lot of milage out of that book. So what about the campaign guide?

If this is your first exposure to the Eberron campaign setting and you wanted to jump into this for your group, buy this book. It has a ton of information and ideas for running this campaign setting. I think the introduction succinctly describes the setting and can allow a DM to easily grasp the overall themes. Additionally, there are a lot of suggestions on the opening campaign theme for your game. Whether you want the intrigue of the dragonmarked houses of delving into the secret war between the nations, to a more epic theme of the dragon prophecy as a high fantasy campaign, to a dungeon crawling jaunt of exploration to fill the player’s coffers with coin and treasure, just about every theme is covered. Enough ideas and information are given to give the DM some means to sketch out a campaign and run the game they want.

Further details are provided on the typical city settings, interaction of the various houses, implementation of magical technology and travel. Sharn is given a bit more detail on typical city life to allow a DM to take pieces and incorporate them into other cities within Eberron. Not to mention finally having some stat blocks on the various wondrous mounts a player can pick up.

This is followed up by more detailed information on different geo-political regions of the world. Each region is given a thumbnail sketch of the people and notable places within. Also a little detail of the other continents beyond Khorvaire is provided.

The book further goes into the various dragonmarked houses, and their role within Khorvaire. It goes over some of the politics and purposes of each house which was nice. The book also covers some more fiendish organizations and global threats. Again, nice to have if the DM does not want to get the players embroiled into the political bickering between dragonmarked houses. The book wraps up with a beginning adventure and some encounter examples.

I’ll pipe in here and say this last section was a disappointment. It always is tricky to put something like this in these books, especially with Eberron as a setting (since your campaign can take on so many different themes). I like the idea of a ‘flashback’ adventure with the initial fall of Cyre and having the players embroiled in it all. Additionally, the follow up encounter is okay, but I love the idea. It follows up on the group, 4 years later in Sharn. All of them are gathered at a ceremony commemorating the day of mourning (each there for some reason or another).

I really wish at this point the adventure stopped, and they just gave lots of suggestions on what the DM could do next. Having a lot of options and player hooks would have served the book well. I much rather they spent the following pages expanding another section covered, example encounters.

This is something I really enjoyed out of the book. A few example scenarios and locales were provided. Each detailing some interesting terrain of the encounter, with different suggestions of creatures to fight. Best of all, different levels of encounter groups were provided. I really wished they ported this idea over to most of the follow up encounters for the initial adventure.

Note to WotC, I think this would be a great stand alone product. Having a book of encounters, with suggested groups of monsters covering different levels would be a solid buy. Don’t worry about stringing it together as a series of dungeon delve, just give us example encounters in interesting locations.

The Good – A lot of solid information here. I think there is a lot of material to get a DM up and running an Eberron campaign. Lots of background on political, economic, and racial factions. There is also a bit more information on the ‘typical life’ of people in different geographical regions. This book goes a long way towards filling in details that the player’s book skimmed over.

The Bad – Plenty of material here, but I still wish there was more. I think committing more on the geographic locations would have been nice. Plus it is very centric to one continent, a bit more on the others within Eberron would have been helpful.

Also it’s an interesting idea of kicking off an Eberron campaign by having a flashback adventure, but I think overall the whole adventure falls flat. I wish they spent more pages with material like the last two encounter locations in the book. For me, I would think that type of material would be more applicable and easier for a DM to use over having a complete initial adventure.

The Verdict – If you are new to D&D and want to run an Eberron campaign, this is a great DM buy. It has plenty of information and a enough details on the movers and the shakers of the world. As a big plus it also covers a lot of ground on giving the DM ideas for running a variety of campaign themes.

If, however, you have run an Eberron campaign in the past and (more importantly) have many of the old campaign books, I think you could pass on this. Much of the material is simply background material on the world and its people and places. Much of that would all ready be at your fingertips with the original 3.5 release. I think with that book you could skip much of the material in this new book, and armed with the 4E player’s book be able to run an effective campaign.

While some of the factions, villains, and groups are interesting, I also expect this is a book strictly for DMs that want to run a game in this setting. Not a whole lot of meat in the way of rules here. If you are running a homebrew setting, likely much of this material is more background information rather than stuff you could port directly into your game.

That is my impression of this book in a nutshell. If you’ve run an Eberron campaign before, just be sure to pick up the 4E player’s book. Nothing in this is an absolutely must have, and you can likely make up what you need to fill in any gaps by yourself. If you are a new DM to 4E Eberron though, I’d say this is a must buy.

Toodles for now!

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