Exploring the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron
  • Exploring the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron


    When WotC announced the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron as a PDF release it caused a great disturbance as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy and frustration. The joy is because the most requested setting in the player surveys was finally being released for 5th Edition. The frustration is because it's not a physical book, it's not legal for D&D Adventurer's League and it said that Wayfinder's “will serve to collect feedback on adjusted races, dragon marks, new backgrounds and more,” making it seem like a beta release. By contrast, Curse of Strahd Ravenloft was presented as an adventure and source material.





    While the disappointment is understandable, Wayfinder's is a meatier release than I expected. At 176 pages, it does an excellent job of presenting Eberron's setting, tone and the type of adventures.

    However, Wayfinder's isn't a comprehensive guide to Eberron. It has a lot – far more than I expected from the announcement – but no classes and the world background focuses primarily on Khorvaire, with only brief information on the rest of the world.

    Despite what's missing, a GM could could home brew an Eberron campaign for 5th Edition using Wayfinder's. Several times through the book Wayfinder's gives tips or idea starters for how to blend Eberron with the Forgotten Realms setting or a home brew campaign. In fact, it has a section in Chapter One called “If It Exists in D&D, There's a Place for It in Eberron.”

    Chapter Three includes the Eberron-specific races Changelings, Kalashtar, Shifters and Warforged along with Eberron customizations for the classic races and as less commonly used ones like gnolls, minotaurs, etc. Eberron's tendency toward shades of gray is much appreciated for those who want something other than “orcs are evil” stereotypes.

    Chapter Four focuses on Dragonmarks, a key characteristic of Eberron along with Warforged and Artificers. These inherited sigils of power designate a person's house and special abilities. Dragonmarks allow you to roll an Intuition die for a specific ability check associated with the mark. The abilities provide a boost without overpowering a character. Meanwhile the house connections provide a lot of prospective character and plot hooks.

    As with Curse of Strahd, Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron was created in cooperation with its original creator. According to Keith Baker, Wayfinder's represents the setting refinements he has made over the years in his private games, adapted to 5th Edition. As with other 5th Edition books, it presents a lot of options for roleplay and characterization.

    One's of Eberron's strengths has always been how it imagined magic would affect every day life and create technology. That remains and fits with the description of Eberron magic being wide but not deep. Minor magic is common. Powerful spells are rare or don't exist in Eberron, depending upon the situation.

    To help a GM create an Eberron adventure “A Quick Sharn Story” provides a series of random tables. Additionally the “Starting Points” are interesting locations and adventure ideas for each section of the city.

    The artwork is lovely and really helps to set the tone for Eberron's pulpy, magicpunk adventures, though two pieces were jarringly cartoonish. Not only do they not fit in with the rest of Wayfinder's, but they also don't fit the consistent art tone established in 5th Edition books.

    While Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron is less than I had hoped, if it's testing whether people will buy the older D&D settings, it's definitely worth it. Whether you're an Eberron fan already or a newcomer looking for break from Forgotten Realms, Wayfinder's provides a lot of material while still leaving space for a formal book release. I hope we get one soon.

    This article was contributed by Beth Rimmels (brimmels) as part of ENWorld's User-Generated Content (UGC) program. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
    Comments 83 Comments
    1. orial's Avatar
      orial -
      "two pieces were jarringly cartoonish", that was always a part of the Eberron art style. Together with the art of Wayne Reynolds. part of me wants this "old skool" art style but another part want art more consistent with the 5e art style.
    1. collin's Avatar
      collin -
      I think it's a good start, but having said that, I had already begun my own conversion of Eberron to 5th edition. Given what this Wayfinder's book lacks, I am apprehensive about shelling out $20 for what amounts to less than half of a normal campaign setting book. There is a plethora of old material for Eberron to draw from. I'll wait until they come out with the real deal. In the meantime, I have my stuff, and I don't know that I need Keith Baker's version of conversions to run a game.
    1. orial's Avatar
      orial -
      Also it's still a works in progress. I own all the 3e and 4e books. Why don't they make this PDF free like the 5e playtest? I will not pay for a PDF and next year pay again for a complete printed copy
    1. dungeonguru's Avatar
      dungeonguru -
      I've not been a fan of paying for playtest materials or funding kickstarters in general but it seems to be the only way RPG publishers can get new product lines out the door any more. It just feels like an R&D cash grab. I would probably change my mind if they presented a campaign that I'm more invested in (Greyhawk, Planescape, Dark Sun) from earlier editions but that just shows my age group and preference...
    1. Polyhedral Columbia's Avatar
      Polyhedral Columbia -
      Edit: deleted misplaced rant.

      Sounds good. Glad Mearls and team are bring back *all* the worlds. Opening them up to DMs Guild is heroic. And thanks for Keith Baker for stepping up!
    1. mcmillan's Avatar
      mcmillan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Polyhedral Columbia View Post
      Here's some errata. Put the darn world map in the book. It's not like there's gonna be a whole line of official Eberron products - so might as well give newcomers a glimpse and vision of the whole world! geez
      There is the world map in the Distant Lands Section, or were you wanting more detail?
    1. Polyhedral Columbia's Avatar
      Polyhedral Columbia -
      Okay cool. I mistook "brief information" as just text. Alright, glad the world map is in there - good job Keith B and WotC!
    1. mpenny's Avatar
      mpenny -
      Two additional bits about this - Adventurer's League support and plans to add the artificer class.

      An Exploratory Commencement

      "I’m very pleased to announce that shortly after we begin D&D Adventurers League season 8 featuring Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (and I’m totally STOKED about that campaign as well), we will begin a whole new exploratory campaign featuring Eberron. The foundation for this campaign will be the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron."

      Comicbook.com interview with Mike Mearls on Eberron

      "Mearls confirmed that Wayfinder's Guide is a living document and that all the game mechanic elements would receive updates. Mearls also confirmed that D&D would add the much-requested artificer class to Wayfinder's Guide when ready. "Keith also has the option to revise world material that fans find confusing or that doesn’t quite hit the mark he is aiming for," Mearls added. Still, Mearls believed that most of the updates to the new publication will focus on the rules needed to play campaigns in the setting."
    1. Superchunk77's Avatar
      Superchunk77 -
      This should have been a free supplement given that it's not a final draft. Follow Paizo's lead on how they're handling the Pathfinder 2e playtest.
    1. Polyhedral Columbia's Avatar
      Polyhedral Columbia -
      For $20, this ought to be print-on-demand softcover.

      Still, glad that Eberron is leading the way for the other classic D&D worlds.

      I care not whether a hardcover of any of the classic settings is released. The question of publishing a hardcover at Hasbro's business scale involves a lot of sheerly monetary factors. It's understandable that the M:tG book is released as hc, and not Eberron.

      Heck, even a tiny 24-page intro booklet with a few 5E crunchies would be enough for the other worlds. As long as each and every classic D&D world is opened up to DMs Guild, the aficionados can do the rest.
    1. mpenny's Avatar
      mpenny -
      It's not a final draft, but you do get all the updates for free including the final draft. Think of it as pre-purchasing the final version but getting early access to the current mechanics and material. I think they're entitled to put it out and see if people buy it.
    1. Reynard -
      Quote Originally Posted by mpenny View Post
      It's not a final draft, but you do get all the updates for free including the final draft. Think of it as pre-purchasing the final version but getting early access to the current mechanics and material. I think they're entitled to put it out and see if people buy it.
      Or it is a new model. People don't use or consume RPG material the way the used to. A living, constantly updated book fits much more into the modern way people consume electronic games, which is a pretty close analogue for the RPG hobby. New electronic games (at least those from good developers) get tweaks and enhancements and free DLC and all the rest. Given that Eberron is apparently going to be the home of a new Adventurer's League campaign, it makes sense. After all, what is Adventurer's League other than a Massive Multiplayer Tabletop RPG?

      I for one am glad to see WotC exploring new ways of doing business and providing content. But I do wish I did not have to buy a book 3 times to be able to use it at home, on a VTT and access it via computer.
    1. Dire Bare's Avatar
      Dire Bare -
      Quote Originally Posted by orial View Post
      Also it's still a works in progress. I own all the 3e and 4e books. Why don't they make this PDF free like the 5e playtest? I will not pay for a PDF and next year pay again for a complete printed copy
      As this release is a "living document" and the crunchy bits will be going through the Unearthed Arcana playtest process, there will not be a printed book until the content is "locked down". Once that happens, the Wayfarer's Guide will receive a POD (print-on-demand) option through the DMsGuild. Mearls has talked about a possible, future, "traditional" print product for Eberron, but has stated it would not be the Wayfarer's Guide, but rather a different book with a small amount of overlap in crunch and fluff.
    1. Dire Bare's Avatar
      Dire Bare -
      Quote Originally Posted by dungeonguru View Post
      I've not been a fan of paying for playtest materials or funding kickstarters in general but it seems to be the only way RPG publishers can get new product lines out the door any more. It just feels like an R&D cash grab. I would probably change my mind if they presented a campaign that I'm more invested in (Greyhawk, Planescape, Dark Sun) from earlier editions but that just shows my age group and preference...
      My god, I hate the phrase "cash grab" as used by fans online. Do you really think the Wayfarer's Guide was developed solely to bring in sweet, easy cash for WotC? There are better ways to do that, much better ways. Sure, they want to make a profit, they are not a charity after all, but to characterize ANY release as a "cash grab" is ignorant and unnecessarily insulting to the folks behind the game.
    1. Dire Bare's Avatar
      Dire Bare -
      Quote Originally Posted by Polyhedral Columbia View Post
      Here's some errata. Put the darn world map in the book. It's not like there's gonna be a whole line of official Eberron products - so might as well give newcomers a glimpse and vision of the whole world! geez

      Other than that, sounds good. Glad Mearls and team are bring back *all* the worlds. Opening them up to DMs Guild is heroic. And thanks for Keith Baker for stepping up!
      Quote Originally Posted by Polyhedral Columbia View Post
      Okay cool. I mistook "brief information" as just text. Alright, glad the world map is in there - good job Keith B and WotC!
      So, without even looking through the product, you decided to complain about something not being there . . . when you had no idea if it was actually there or not? Slow down, tiger.

      Maybe, just maybe, instead of making assumptions you could have asked in the thread. Plenty of us on the forums here have already purchased the product. And as McMillan has already mentioned, there is indeed a world map, multiple world maps in fact.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dire Bare View Post
      My god, I hate the phrase "cash grab" as used by fans online.
      Yeah, I agree. It’s obnoxious.
    1. Dire Bare's Avatar
      Dire Bare -
      Quote Originally Posted by Superchunk77 View Post
      This should have been a free supplement given that it's not a final draft. Follow Paizo's lead on how they're handling the Pathfinder 2e playtest.
      While the Wayfarer's Guide itself is not free (nor do I think it should be), the crunchy bits are being made available for free through Unearthed Arcana. The latest article, "Races of Eberron" include the same racial write-ups as found in the Wayfarer's Guide for the changelings, kalashtar, shifters, and warforged. For free. Later articles will give us the artificer class, and then dragonmarks. Again, all for free.

      Note: The artificer is not currently in the Wayfarer's Guide, but at some point it will be added. At no additional cost.

      Start here: http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/unea.../races-eberron
    1. jhilahd's Avatar
      jhilahd -
      What's really aggravating to me are the comments on Drivethrurpg.com's site. We finally have WotC releasing pdf's and now one for a book that will have our input and they don't like this.

      I think this is a great step forward. Am I happy with the $20 cost of the pdf, meh sorta-kinda to not really. But I think it's no different than FFG and their Star Wars Beta or Pathfinder with theirs. Look at the bright side, we have Eberron in 5e. We have an active hobby with tons of great material. Look at the pdfs that were released once the ok was given. Some of them are really neat and introduced me to creators I don't normally follow but do now.

      I'm happy that Keith's involved again and he even posted a FAQ up on his site: www.keith-baker.com/wgte-eberron// that details alot of the questions people have.

      For me, this version has actually sold me on the setting. Something about 3.5 just rubbed me the wrong way... this on the other hand is sweet.

      **edited for words that I left out... their hard.
    1. dungeonguru's Avatar
      dungeonguru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Yeah, I agree. It’s obnoxious.
      What phrase would you and Dire Bear prefer: unscrupulous, avaricous, grabby, unethical or unprincipled?

      When I stop by a food court and they ask me to test drive a new food that they're looking at selling depending on feedback, I don't pay for it.

      When I proof-read a draft or test someone's instructions or procedures for a work task, I don't pay them for the pleasure.

      Sure, in the past playtesting was free and I'm not afraid to say I miss that. D&D 3.0 playtesting was free. Unearthed Arcana articles are free. I'm just sad that I've played long enough for the free samples to stop and be charged using the "early access" and "pay for beta access" that the online gaming community started. My fears are that this lays the groundwork for the future where I have to pay for the printed version of DLC. I'm hoping I'm proven wrong in the long run.

      If this was Print-on-Demand like PF2, I wouldn't even have blinked.

      Saying I'm insulting the designers is a misunderstanding on your part, I'm insulting the management that made the decision. Rarely do the designers get to decide the price point of anything.
    1. Dire Bare's Avatar
      Dire Bare -
      Quote Originally Posted by dungeonguru View Post
      What phrase would you and Dire Bear prefer: unscrupulous, avaricous, grabby, unethical or unprincipled?
      I think any of those terms would be just as ignorant, unfair, obnoxious, and unnecessarily insulting as "cash grab".

      If you don't like the idea of paying for a product that is still undergoing playtesting . . . that's fair. If you think the $20 price tag is too high for what you get . . . that's fair. If you simply don't like the product for any reason; the format, the content, the quality . . . that's fair too. But all of that is a far cry from WotC somehow being unethical in how they have decided to release the Wayfarer's Guide. You not liking the product does not equate to WotC being underhanded in any way, shape, or form.
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