Follower of the Way
I agree, Magepulp is a better description!
Glad you liked it. Though even with what I said above, I do think there are certain strains of "punk-like" thought that run through Eberron--such that, if you tweaked a few knobs, you could run it as a more punk-y universe. Biggest thing would be to make the various Dragonmarked Houses the equivalent of Shadowrun's megacorps: dramatically more powerful than most governments, doing whatever they like in search of profit and damn the consequences.
On another note, if someone really wants to do a lower magic version of Eberron, I always found the Iron Kingdom setting from Privateer Press to have some similar beats (nations recently at war, political intrigue, magic fueled tech) but grittier.
Yeah I...guess I just don't see Eberron as a world that works with "low magic." If you can make it "low magic" in the sense that true "Mages" are exceedingly rare, but certain forms of "tamed" magic are employed (the equivalent of steam engines and gas lines in Victorian England), I could see it working--but that is at very best a SUPER nuanced take on "low magic."
Something else also came to me, while I was thinking about this stuff after my first post. I think part of the problem is that "High Fantasy" is actually a bigger umbrella than we give it credit for. A lot of people think "High Fantasy" is exclusively Tolkienian fantasy, and I don't think I agree with that. Tolkien-style worlds are one kind, but there are others. As a sort of distant example, consider "space opera." For many, Star Wars is the defining example of space opera--but for many others, E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman novels, or Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, or Iain M. Banks' Culture novels, or even the Homeworld or Mass Effect games, are more "defining" of the genre. And there are a lot of places where these stories differ greatly from each other, in technology, types and varieties of species, and scope.
Just as Asimov's Foundation books can be about a galaxy-spanning mono-racial culture with comparatively limited development for its age, while Banks' Culture stories can have an endless profusion of phenotypes and effective immortality, so too can Middle Earth (where great magic exists, but is rare and mysterious and often dangerous) share a genre with Eberron (where minor magic is so commonplace it becomes almost invisible, but profound magic is rare at best).
A few things. One: I dunno where you found that definition of "high fantasy," but it's not the way I've ever used the term. I think it's entirely possible to have a "high fantasy" that's set in the real world, it just needs to have people maintaining a Masquerade (as TVTropes would put it), and regular humans that have a natural Weirdness Censor. Harry Potter comes to mind as precisely that--the Wizarding World is very much high fantasy, with consistent rules (how often does Hermione have to remind them about Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration and the Five Principle Exceptions to it? Or that electronic devices don't work on the Hogwarts grounds?), a frequent sense of wonder and mystery, and magic festooning out of every corner. But it's set in "our" world too--it's just a secret side of our world.
Two: Don't forget, in your discussions of steampunk, that that is NOT the "original" punk genre! The term first arose in reference to the novel Neuromancer...as cyberpunk. That's where it gets all of the hyper-industrial, hyper-commercialized, pollution-everywhere, morality-out-the-window trappings, because it's a world where the disaffection of the postmodern era is ramped up to fever pitch, where the "rule of law" is conducted more by corporations (with almost-cartoonishly self-seeking directors/CEOs/etc.) Steampunk arose, initially, as an attempt to take the social aspects of cyberpunk, and transfer them to a different historical-technological era. And for all its moral ambiguity, Eberron still seems to be a place where you can be a real hero, where good actually does accomplish things--something that cyberpunk, and most "classical" [thing]punk works (regardless of the prefix), tends to avert HARD.
I absolutely agree that Eberron, socially and "technologically," is more like the real world between, say, 1910 and 1945--the period of the two World Wars--than it is like the Victorian or US Civil War eras. This is not a culture undergoing an industrial revolution per se--though industry is expanding rapidly. It's a culture undergoing a revolution more like the electric revolution. It's a culture engaged not so much in colonialism (though that is still a thing), but in brinksmanship and webs-of-alliances between Great Powers.
That's why I call it "magepulp." It's a kind of world that Indiana Jones or Doc Savage would inhabit. Many of the actors in such a world have tints of grey to them, like Dr. Jones himself (definitely in it for some money/fame/artifacts for his college) or even Belloq, who insisted on treating Dr. Jones with a certain minimum (VERY minimum...) decency. But in the end, I think most (adventure-relevant) characters can be grouped into "white-what's-got-grubby" and "Seriously Bad People." Sometimes, Seriously Bad People want some things that are good, but seek them in evil ways, or at inappropriate times, or for further, darker ends. That doesn't stop them from being Seriously Bad--it just makes them more interesting.