Does it do Eberron Justice?
Beloved Eberron is finally brought into 5th edition with its new setting book that raises it out of unearthed arcana uncertainty. Eberron has unironically been described as the perfect setting, so the pressure on this new entry is high. Does “Rising From the Last War” live up to its legacy? Stick with us for just a second as we run through everything you need to know.
What is Eberron?
Eberron is an adventure setting that got its first iteration way back in 2004 during 3.5 D&D. It’s got robots, dinosaurs, intrigue, magical airships and trains fueled by lightning elementals. Especially at the time, it was a huge departure from traditional medieval fantasy settings. It was hugely pushed, and it was a massive success. Start bringing up old settings among veteran players, and you’ll be sure to hear some fond memories and exciting stories of warforged and the city of towers as they reminisce. Eberron is its own setting, separate from the forgotten realms and all the other current 5e settings. Eberron means high stakes, noir plots of betrayal, it means steampunk train robberies and floating cities. And if any of that piques your interest, just grab a dinosaur mount and follow us in.
What’s in the Book?
Rising From the Last War clocks in at 320 pages, which is actually quite chunky compared to similarly priced (usually $49.99) releases. The bulk of it is devoted to deeply fleshing out the setting, with a small adventure path, a bunch of character creation options, and a couple of extras. It includes:
- A sizable welcome section outlining just what to expect from an Eberron adventure.
- 4 “new” races and 12 new “dragonmark” racial options (more on that later).
- 2 new feats.
- 1 new background.
- 1 full “new” player class.
- A “Group Patron” system.
- A lengthy world overview section.
- A section detailing “Sharn, City of Towers”.
- A “Building Eberron Adventures” section with several adventure hooks.
- The “Forgotten Relics” adventure path starting at 1st level and ending at 2nd level.
- 25 new magic items.
- 38 new monsters/NPCs with lore and stat blocks.
Welcome to Eberron
Normally I wouldn’t even mention welcome sections like this, but the style of Eberron is distinct enough that it's important to get DMs into the right mindset and I think this accomplished its mission beautifully. It’s longer than most welcome sections and knocks out a ton of questions that I had going in on how they were going to handle things. Bravo, this is a welcome section worth reading.
4 “New” Races and 12 Dragonmark Racial Options
“New” gets a big set of quotation marks because we’ve had these 4 races available for quite a while through unearthed arcana. The bestial shifters, the sidewinding changelings, and the spirit bound Kalashtar all make the jump to official release essentially intact. The mechanical warforged though (arguably the one people get most excited about) had a major rework. The new warforged are fixed, but… Boring. They lost their subraces do to balance concerns, and I’m glad they’re less busted now, but I’ll always miss the originals.
The dragonmarks get substantially less attention but mechanically they’re essentially new race options entirely. A dragonmarked dwarf can function WAY differently than a “vanilla” dwarf, and these 12 dragonmarks represent a LOT of new character options. A+ on this section, we couldn’t have asked for more new race choices in a single book.
2 New Feats
The feats were less exciting, and to be fair they didn’t exactly put them on a pedestal. One feat simply gives proficiency in a cool new weapon (the double-bladed scimitar) and the other is specifically for dragonmarked characters and makes their unique abilities pack more punch.
The House Agent Background
While well fleshed-out and flavorful, this new background is extremely setting specific. Your character serves one of the great houses in Eberron and you gain a lot of ties to a specific powerful family.
The Artificer Class
This new class has been in various playtesting states for years now, and I’m really happy with the build they settled on. The artificer is the 1st full class to be added to 5th edition since the core rulebook and it really shows how carefully and cautiously they made this addition. If you’re not familiar with artificers, think a wizard, but with SCIENCE (and also magic). Artificers are the masters of magic items, makers of robots, and distillers of magical elixirs. If you’re familiar with the playtest versions, the biggest changes they made for this final version were to cut out the archivist specialty and change the homunculus creation ability into a normal ability, rather than reserving it for the alchemist. The alchemist, in turn, got much better potion brewing abilities, which just makes sense to me.
I’m very happy with the final build, “archivist” was the specialty I had the most problems within my own playtesting, and I no longer have to choose between cool magic guns and a little robot pal.
The Group Patron System
As the 5e setting books have rolled out, I’ve seen them get more and more aware of the hurdles that DMs must overcome and their answers to them. This group patron setup is a nice workaround for party cohesion and motivations that’ll be applicable to a lot more settings than just Eberron. It doesn’t have all that many mechanics built into it, but I like what they did, and I’m tempted to start using it myself.
Eberron World Overview
Eberron is a whole world, just as vast and as intricate as the forgotten realms and requiring just as much backstory and fluff. The book spends a lot of time here, because it needs to. I really appreciated though the running “newspaper articles” that are sprinkled into the setting descriptions (and the whole book really). They helped set the tone and keep this vast fantasy world feeling wrapped together as the same contiguous whole.
Sharn, City of Towers
Sharn was and is the primary launching off point for adventures in Eberron, and I’m glad they spent the time to flesh it out here. It lays out the sections of the city, prominent places and people, and rather smartly sets up some extraordinary random encounter tables for the major areas. One thing I absolutely wanted from this book was enough content to play a campaign solely within Sharn, and I can happily report that you can.
Building Eberron Adventures
Rising From the Last War is trying very hard to be a setting book first and foremost and this section really shows that off. This section presents a ton of themes for adventuring hooks and a ton of potential setups, each one containing a fortress or dungeon map and a sort of a general overview on how they might be used. This whole section is tooled for helping DMs start an adventure, and a few tips on how to potentially keep adventuring afterwards. This is brilliant, and I hope future 5e books will follow this model. I anticipate a lot of great campaigns starting with these easy to use beginnings to their grand adventures.
Forgotten Relics Adventure Path
This adventure takes place entirely within Sharn and runs throughout the city of towers as the players track down a warforged mixed up with kidnapping and mysterious artifacts before confronting the perpetrator as they try to escape by lightning rail. It sounds alright on the surface but it’s just so darn SHORT. It’s practically built out of loose ends; doesn’t have a real conclusion and it’s obviously meant to be continued as the DM makes up their own adventure. It’s...fine. It feels like one of the “starting Eberron adventures” that they just fleshed out a bit more or a vestigial remnant of what was going to be a much grander adventure. It’s only level 1 to level 2 and I really wish they’d either left it out entirely or extended it to at least a 1-4 length adventure.
25 New Magic Items
We get a ton of new toys to play with, most of which include that technology/magic flare that makes them feel at home in Eberron. I particularly enjoyed the many “grafted” items that became permanent attachments.
38 New Monsters/NPCs
Everything I was hoping for was here, from the warforged colossi to the valenar spirit animal companions. And my god the living spells, I love the living spells and plan to use them in a ton of campaigns. Imagine a living lightning bolt streaking across the sky! I’m extremely happy with the new entries they gave us here, and they’ll have far-reaching applications beyond this setting alone.
What’s Good About the Book?
It’s Eberron, and I guarantee you’ll find a part of it you’d like to adventure in. The book is very full of everything you could possibly need when starting your Eberron adventures. You’re getting a ton of new character creation options, a fun and well-fleshed out setting, a slew of great hooks to start a new adventure and a pre-built adventure to wet your whistle. I don’t think 5e has produced a setting book that I would recommend more to new players, and it seems tailor-made for brand-new players to sink their teeth into.
What’s Bad About the Book?
The pre-built adventure is extremely short, and will probably only last 1-2 sessions, maybe 3 if you’re prone to screwing around. The book does a lot to provide you with the tools you’ll need to make your own adventures, but the included adventure seems like an afterthought. It’s also a small qualm, but I didn’t like the changes they made to warforged. They’re significantly more balanced now but also way more boring.
They did an amazing job here; I’m not overstating how much of an improvement they’ve made over previous setting books (even the ones I liked). I really hope the “building adventure” section and the “group patron” sections become a standard they stick to and include in future setting books, as I can’t think of better tools to give new DMs. My big nit-pick is the included adventure path, and really my only qualm there is that there’s not enough of it. There’s still room for improvement, but as a setting book, I don’t think I can recommend any 5e book higher.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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